Reframing the practice of meditation

No, I do not own this picture. Somehow I think Banksy would be okay with it as long as I’m using it to share love and work on bettering the world rather than trying to profit from it.

You don’t have to be good at meditation. You don’t have to get anywhere or accomplish anything. It’s enough to just sit there.

As someone who is a lifelong perfectionist and achiever, if not over-achiever, I totally get the challenges of wanting to be good at meditating without trying to be good at it. Here’s a few thoughts on how to be in the moment without trying to get anywhere.

The thing about meditation is…It’s not about trying to achieve anything.  In fact, trying to achieve something actually makes it harder to achieve the thing you aren’t supposed to be trying to achieve.  I know, I know…makes no sense.  

We all come to mindfulness and meditation for a reason.  We have a purpose.  For most of us, it isn’t just because we felt like sitting still for thirty minutes because we have nothing else to do.  With such busy lives, we almost always have something else to do.

But if we sit for the purpose of feeling better or being calmer or becoming less stressed then meditation becomes just one more thing on the to-do list.  It’s one more thing we have to be good at.  Or, perhaps, one more thing that we might berate ourselves for not being good enough at.  And very few of us need more of that.

If I sit and try to be calm, it might work.  I might find some peace.  But I also might not.  And then I’m liable to get frustrated that I’m not doing it right or achieving my goal. And why would I want to keep going if it’s just going to result in frustration?  

So what can we do?  

We can re-frame meditation, not as something to excel at or a state to achieve.  Meditation is a refuge from all of that.  And in fact, it “works” to make us feel better or calmer or less stressed precisely because it’s a refuge.  We don’t need something else to do.  We need a space where we get to not-do.  Meditation is a chance to not have to think or figure out or analyze or solve.  We get a break from the analytical, discursive thinking.  If peacefulness comes, that’s great.  But if it doesn’t come, it doesn’t become a reflection of how well we are doing or not.  It’s just what is happening right now.  And letting go of those expectations, that gives us the freedom to be peaceful regardless of what’s happening.
What a relief.