The other day I stumbled upon a Facebook argument about meditation: is it about suppressing bad memories, or processing bad memories? The person thinking meditation suppresses memories naturally considered it harmful, and a possibly dangerous fad.
IANAB (I’m not a Buddhist) and my experience in meditation is very limited, but I’d be willing to argue meditation is neither. It’s more about being ready when the next bad thing happens. Or a good thing for that matter.
The reward from meditation is to gain clarity and to be ready for whatever life throws you. Sometimes life throws you lemons and it pays to realize that it’s something that does happen from time to time, that it might not even be anything to get angry at, and maybe even see the lemonade-making opportunities that await you.
There are certain aspects of meditation that might give a ‘thought suppression’ vibe. From Wikipedia’s great meditation article:
Meditation often involves an internal effort to self-regulate the mind in some way. Meditation is often used to clear the mind ...
But in this context clearing your mind or self-regulating your thoughts does not mean not thinking certain thoughts you feel are ‘bad’.
The point of meditation exercises is to build a transparent layer between your thoughts and you. That layer’s job is to detect and acknowledge the thoughts that run through your mind, to understand how they make you feel and why, and to assess if there’s any real reason to get upset about that email you got.
All in all, I’m a bit more positive about using meditation to process memories, but way more using it as a tool to better survive everyday life without stress and being prepared for any possible future.