Meditation is a process of quieting the mind.
But—for most people—the mind will not be perfectly still during meditation. In fact—for most people—the mind will be quite active throughout.
There will be moments of stillness and those moments are of the utmost importance. During those moments healing takes place—on the physical, mental and emotional levels. And during those moments we also strengthen our connection with our highest, truest self.
However, we cannot be aware of those moments. For to be aware of them is to be thinking. We may have blissful feelings that give us an inkling of the experience of stillness and we may have none of these inklings.
It doesn’t matter—we need to trust in the process and continue to practice even if our experience isn’t matching our expectation.
The number one reason why people give up meditating is because they think they are having too many thoughts. And they interpret that experience to mean one of two things: either they’re not doing it right, or it’s not working.
As long as you become aware of your mind drifting off and continually bring it back to whatever focus you’ve chosen, such as a mantra or your breath, then you’re doing it correctly. So, continue to practice and hold off any judgements about it.
Our judgements are the primary stumbling block.
We need to remember that meditation is a self-care and spiritual practice—not chill-out time. I’m not knocking chill-out time, or saying that it can’t be that too. But it’s much more than that. And even if it feels tedious instead of ‘relaxing’—as it often will—that doesn’t mean it’s not benefiting us.
The secret to establishing a daily meditation habit is to stop expecting any specific experience and stop judging the experience we have.
Just do it—day in, day out—regardless of whether we consider ourselves to be good or bad at it.
Don’t compare your experience with the experiences of others, either. That only feeds the judgement. Each of us will have our own experience—the one that is right for us at the time. Accept that and keep going with it.
After you have a daily habit established, then pay attention to changes in your life—improvements in your health, less reactionary to situations, greater self-awareness, improved ability to deal with stress (or fewer experiences of stress). These are the things we judge our meditation by—not how busy or quiet our minds are during the sit.
And these benefits take time to accrue.
So, be patient and give it time. Let go of the judgements and just do it.
First published on elephantjournal.com
Image: John Hain/Flickr
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