It is shocking how quickly we can decide that we aren’t “good” at something.
Almost everyone I talk to about meditation has a story to tell me about how they aren’t any good at it: they fall asleep, get caught up in crazy thoughts or can’t sit for very long without getting uncomfortable.
And I don’t know how to say it any louder or clearer but…
This is the whole point!
We don’t choose to meditate so that we will have a peaceful experience while meditating—we choose to meditate so that we can re-train the way we use our awareness.
Because as Dr. Joe Dispenza points out, “Where we put our awareness and for how long maps our destiny.”
Our minds are powerful instruments and we have a lot of choice about how to use them.
That is why it is very important never to care about getting “good” at meditation.
Meditation practice is not a goal onto itself. We aren’t trying to have more peaceful meditation practices, longer meditation practices or even more enjoyable meditation practices.
Meditation isn’t about trying to have a pleasant experience.
Meditation is about having a purposeful experience.
Here is how Dr. Marsha Lucas explains it in her book Rewire Your Brain for Love:
“Walking around as most of us do, with lots of stress, has our bodies pumping out hormones much of the time. Those hormones find their way into special receptors in your brain, and they basically make you want to seek pleasure- and seek it quickly. The brain is jonesing for a quick squirt of dopamine- sometimes referred to as the “feel-good neurotransmitter,” which impels you to do something to provide this, such as eat some ice cream or look to see if a new e-mail has arrived. While this will make you feel better now, it turns out that it’s not good for long-term well-being. So keep in mind that even if meditation doesn’t feel good in a given moment, or if your brain is telling you to go do something else quicker and/or “more pleasurable,” know that by practicing, you’re training your brain to deal with stress more effectively, eliminating much of the stress-craving pleasure-indulging-stress cycle in which we so often get trapped.”
We all know this feeling of being trapped in our own habits. Habits such as negative thinking, worrying, arguing with people in our minds, over-planning and playing out worst case scenarios repeatedly.
Well, it is these thought patterns that are contributing to us feeling stressed and miserable.
That is why we need to have these experiences when we are meditating.
We need to sit still and quiet and get anxious—fret about our important meeting tomorrow, run over all the reasons our life isn’t working in our minds—and then notice we are having these habitual experience so we can then steer away from these unwanted thoughts to a new experience, like noticing the breath.
This isn’t comfortable or easy.
But it is effective.
And one year after we start meditating, these thought patterns that make us feel like we are “bad” at meditating will still be happening.
Five years and ten years and twenty years after we start a meditation practice these experiences will still be happening.
But we will be more skilled with knowing how to shift our awareness away from them.
This is why we will still be meditating. Because we will have learned how to work with our own thoughts, consciousness and awareness and we will know it brings benefit to our own life and the lives of the people we encounter.
We will keep meditating because we know the practice helps us align with what is true and authentic in our hearts instead of aligning us with passing nasty thoughts that are just traveling through.
This is why I suggest staying “bad” at meditating if “bad” means having a busy mind and an anxious experience while meditating—this means the juicy stuff we want to transform is right at the surface of our awareness, right where we want it.
We need the grubby stuff in our consciousness to be where we can see it because it is only from there that we can shift it.
We will never get “good” at meditation. We will never find that meditation totally easy and without a need for a certain amount of discipline.
But if we develop a meditation practice it will become good to us—good for our souls and good for increasing the amount of love and empathy we shine back onto the world.
Author: Ruth Lera
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: james_sickmind at Flickr