What you should not look for in meditation
In today's lesson, we're going to bust the misconception about expectations. There's a popular saying, "Go meditate on it," which implies entering the meditation with an idea of what you want to experience during the time you invest in meditating—it could be an answer to a problem, or a solution, or an idea, or simply much-needed mental rest. Regardless, going into meditation looking for something specific to happen will almost guarantee that that thing won't happen.
Where do the answers live?
Maybe the answers will be found in the meditation. Maybe they won't. But what's important is maintaining a nonchalant attitude about it either way. The biggest mistake new meditators make is they go into the practice with an expectation or checklist—which feels natural because that's how we approach everything else. This should be happening, then that.
For instance, do you feel like these things should ideally happen in your meditation:
- Your mind should feel quieter than it does when you're not meditating
- The time should go by faster than normal
- You shouldn't fall asleep
- You should have thoughts that are different from your everyday thinking mind.
If you feel these are reasonable expectations in meditation, you are setting yourself up for failure, or at the very least, to have clunky meditation experiences.
Understand: you can't use the mind to control the monkey mind. What you resist will persist. The only way to move beyond the monkey and into a quieter experience is to not expect it to go away. And if you want to go further, make friends with it.
Let go of any and all expectations about what you think should be happening in meditation
In today's 10-minute meditation, you're going to practice everything we've discussed up to now, except without any expectation of what you feel should be happening. So if you're being mentally lazy, noticing your breath, and being overall nonchalant, and you begin thinking about something unrelated or falling asleep, or if the time is going slower, and you begin to grow impatient, that's your indication that you have an expectation. At that point in the mediation, remind yourself that you're experiencing exactly what you should be experiencing.
- Sit comfortably
- Set a soft alarm for 10 minutes
- Lightly notice your breathing.
- Remind yourself to let go of expectations
- When the alarm goes off, you're done.
The irony of letting go of expectations in meditation is... you end up getting what you wanted in the first place—the quieter thinking experience. We don't realize how much our expectations can ruin an otherwise settled meditation experience. But you'll see the difference when you get to a point where you really don't care what happens in the meditation. Tomorrow, we'll discuss another aspect to succeeding in meditation that is rarely mentioned, and seldom followed, but will make a huge difference in your experience.
Post an image that shows a representation of something you thought about in meditation, and make sure to tag #meditationkickstart so the beginmeditating community can encourage you as well.
Sample accountability post