Lost in the Woods | 2301

After 10 years of meditation, I’ve concluded it’s not an act of self care. It’s an act of colossal self indulgence.

Full Show Notes: https://www.thejaymo.net/2023/01/07/301-2301-lost-in-the-woods/

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Lost In the Woods

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After 10 years of meditation, I recently learned a very hard lesson

Self work, mediation, prayer - whatever you want to call it - is a reasonable activity to engage in under the circumstances.


For too many lost in the dark, the work becomes the equivalent of shining a torch upon yourself to find out where you are.

Eventually you have to turn the torch around.Β 

Shine that cultivated compassion, understanding, and critique out into the world.

You are the light.

I’ve been asked to explain myself. So Episode 1 of 2023 is about the single most important life lesson I learned in 2022.


For the foreseeable future if anyone asks me: How much meditation have you done?. I’m going to reply: I’ve done enough to know you have to Turn The Torch Around.

Meditation, when done correctly, is like wiping condensation off a pane of glass. For the briefest of moments you catch some detail or other before it fogs over again. It is hard to even know what you saw, were you looking through a window, or were you looking in a mirror?

Wipe that same surface enough times – every single day of your life – and you will polish it. Eventually you forget about trying to look through the window and instead just focus on wiping the glass. You become about the business of meditating.

You’ll still wonder every so often though… Are you seeing anything on the other side, is it a reflection? Perhaps you’re actually grinding a lens? Pick a tradition and you’ll find an answer. In the end though it doesn’t really matter.

I want to stress: ‘the doing’ of meditation is not in any way shape or form an act of self care. Unless you think of eating, sleeping, or drinking as acts of self care – which for some in certain circumstances, I suppose they are.

Anyways, you’ll tell yourself that all this meditation, this polishing, this lens grinding IS self care. This is a trap. But it’s helping you survive your stressful job, so whatever. But it’s also sending you insane. Absolutely alienated and adrift from the world around you.

Totally off-your-rocker-crazy.

Then one day you wake up in the dark. Lost in the woods, adrift in a storm.

All that remains is a familiar light.

It’s the light you used to glimpse through the window, in the mirror, (or the lens) that you spent half a decade obsessively polishing.

Scared of the dark, you grab the light and shine it towards yourself to check that you are still there – to check that you exist. You can only see your feet, your arms, your legs, and your hands. The light is too narrow. You can only sense one part of yourself in the dark at a time.

After the panic recedes you realise that the same things you used to do when sat upon the meditation mat makes the light a little brighter. It makes the beam a little less narrow. 

You still don’t know where you are though. Other than knowing that you are somewhere in the abyss, lost in the dark.

But the world keeps turning.

Politics happens, a pandemic happens, history continues to be written. The sun comes up and the sun goes down. But day by day, you’re still stuck and lost in the dark.

Then slowly and surely, like opening the shutters of a room, or twisting the end of a touch, more mediation results in more light.

Weeks, months and years pass. You feel a little less crazy. Everything incrementally gets a little better, a little brighter. You are still lost in the dark but you can at least see more and more of yourself unfolding in space and time. Eventually, after a lot more meditation, you become aware that you know exactly what – or perhaps who – you really are. Pick your tradition. Then decide what it was you were seeing through the window, in the mirror, or through the lens. 

You are the light.

Yet you’re still the same person you’ve been all along. 

Then, and this is hard to do.

You have to admit to yourself and come to terms with the fact, that you are someone who – in a colossal act of self indulgence – thought it wise to shine a light upon themselves when lost in the woods.

Ignoring the obvious point that doing so would not in any way resolve the issue of not knowing where one was or where one were supposed to be going.

To do that, you have to turn the torch around.

Turn the torch around.

And when you do, in an instant, the brilliance of the world is reflected back at you. in proportion to the brightness of your spirit. 

A world in full colour. Full of emotion, sights and smells, other beings, and other souls. It’s been unfolding around you, day by day, moment to moment all this time. An immense riot of things coming and going, illuminating their own worlds – just as you do.

Everything that exists makes the world a little brighter, a little better.

After so long in the dark it’s dazzling. But you keep meditating, keep praying, and you keep paying attention to the world. 

You are in the woods, amongst the trees.

Then you start to see the paths that could be walked – if you choose to walk them.


The script above is the original script written for the episode. It may differ from what ended up in the edit.

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6 responses to “Lost in the Woods | 2301”

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