I’ve been meditating for five years now, and I can assure you that there isn’t a wrong way to meditate.
And, there is no “right” way to do it either, really. Meditation is a limitless journey—not a destination. Each time we sit to meditate, we make an improvement within ourselves.
We can’t fail when we meditate, because meditation is not a course or an exam. It’s a practice that always generates good effects—even when we think that we could have done better.
But, what really takes our practice to the next level?
Those who have been meditating for years know that the first time they sat for meditation was nothing like their experience today. It’s not that our first meditation was a failure or incorrect, but there are signs that show we are reaping the benefits now.
Oddly enough, progress happens tacitly. We don’t wake up one day and claim, “Ah, I made progress in my meditation practice yesterday.” When progress takes place, we will know it deep inside without thinking about it, analyzing it, or trying to understand it.
However, even if you don’t experience any of the signs I mention below, it doesn’t imply you’re not doing well. We all have different experiences, and as I stated earlier, there is no wrong or right path to meditation.
Even if we do experience the following, we might not experience them consistently or on a daily basis.
1. You don’t push yourself to meditate.
Meditation undoubtedly requires willingness, energy, and commitment—but it no longer requires much effort for those who are making progress. It becomes a routine, rather than something you force yourself to do occasionally. Meditation then develops into a natural habit just like eating or walking.
2. You forget time when you meditate.
In other words, you forget that you’re meditating. We naturally let go of time instead of counting it or trying to guess how many minutes passed by. Also, we don’t grow anxious or impatient to finish the session. We understand that this too shall pass, and we try to benefit from every second.
3. You stop judging your meditation sessions.
This is one of the surest signs that we are going in the right direction. When we make progress, we stop judging our experience. Instead of speculating whether our meditation was “good or bad,” we grow indifferent toward it. You won’t wonder if you’re doing right—you focus on the “doing,” rather than its nature. In other words, you won’t evaluate your meditation.
4. Higher awareness.
As you grow more consistent in your practice, you won’t get lost in thought as much as you used to in the beginning. You’ll be aware of what is happening within you and around you—even if it’s only silence. We’ll pay extra attention to our breath, emotions, thoughts, and surroundings. It all connects together to become one single experience.
5. Meditation is now simple.
Another good sign that you are meditating properly is to perceive meditation as simple. It’s not as complicated as it used to be. It’s not that challenging, difficult, or hard to maintain. Meditation then becomes a smoother experience, and we get excited to indulge in it.
6. You’re relaxed.
Our breathing is regulated—and even though we may be sitting in a lotus position, it feels as if we’re floating. We allow sensations to come and go, instead of holding on to them or trying to get rid of them. There’s a distinctive sign of relaxation in our muscles, even if we typically struggle with physical pain. We may even find comfort in pain itself.
7. Your thoughts are no longer your worst enemy.
A lot of people think that the purpose of meditation is to stop the flow of thoughts—however, the purpose of meditation is to not make a big deal about our thoughts. The goal is to simply observe our thoughts as they ebb and flow, and not get all caught up in what’s going on in our heads, as our thoughts are not permanent anyway. All our thoughts won’t disappear, but they will lose their power, and we will become centered in the present moment.
8. Your meditation expands.
Meditation is no longer limited to 20 minutes or an hour. We meditate for longer periods of time, without even realizing what we’re doing. We’ll be aware of what’s happening within us and around us. We will watch our thoughts and know what to accept and what to reject. We will remember our breath every once in a while and accept whatever the present moment brings us. Most importantly, we won’t judge what we’re feeling or thinking—we will let everything simply be.
Author: Elyane Youssef
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Travis May