We don’t meditate to create any particular state or unusual experience, such as a state of calmness, or an experience of transcendence. Whenever we expect the meditation practice to produce a desirable state, we are setting ourselves up to frustration. Our intention during meditation should be to remain open and observe whatever arises, without striving for anything special to happen, knowing that sometimes what arises can be quite unsettling.
Sometimes the meditation will be easy and blissful, other times it will be difficult and tormenting, but we should be careful with our tendency to classify our meditations as good or bad. Not all pleasant meditations are good, and not all unpleasant ones are bad. A good meditation is one that gives the brain a good workout, develops focus, sharpens the ability to notice, and augments the appetite to investigate, discover, and learn.
Despite all the ups and downs we face during this journey of exploration through meditation, as long as we keep practicing, we will be moving forward, making progress, and developing our ability to live more mindfully, which is what will, in the end, improve the quality of our lives. And it’s quite easy to understand that the more “mindful moments” we have, the more of those moments we will have. It’s like saying that mindfulness brings about more mindfulness: it is by noticing what is unfolding that we activate and strengthen neural pathways that allow us to more frequently, and clearly, notice what is unfolding.
So, during meditation, don’t expect anything enjoyable or extraordinary to happen. If it happens, great! Enjoy it! The problem is not with the experience itself, but with the desire, the expectation, and the strong impulse to control the process in order to produce certain results. The advice is, “Do not strive to produce any specific outcome. Let go and let it be. Expectation will lead to frustration. Just meditate without expectations, and trust that a regular and commited practice will bring about improvements in your life.”
Let us cultivate the nine mindfulness-enhancing attitudes recommended by Jon Kabat-Zinn: Beginner’s Mind, Non-Judging, Acceptance, Letting Go, Trust, Patience, Non-Striving, Gratitude, and Generosity. By practicing regularly we will be developing this invaluable ability to more skillfully process the ups and downs in our lives — the good and the bad occurrences, the easy and the difficult situations, the pleasant and unpleasant experiences — with greater equanimity, balance, serenity, and ease. We will learn to reduce unnecessary reactivity and useless struggle, accept life as it presents itself, and use wise assessment and discernment to choose the best responses, all of them skills that are truly priceless.
“There’s no enlightenment outside of daily life.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Piero Falci is an author and educator who believes that the inner work that leads to personal awakening and transformation is indispensable to create a wholesome world. He is an explorer of the mysteries of life who loves to observe, reflect, and write, and who not only strives to live a life that matters, but also hopes to inspire others to do the same. He is a promoter of peace who believes in advancing the idea that Heaven is here if we want it to be. He teaches mindfulness meditation, mindful living, and the acclaimed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program as taught at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He organizes Silent Peace Walks.
Take a look at these books at the Peaceful Ways online store
– “Peaceful Ways – The Power of Making Your Wishes Come True”
– “Pay Attention! Be Alert! Discovering Your Route to Happiness”
– “Silent Peace Walk”