Updated: Jun 3
You don't meditate. You let yourself get meditated. You are deliberately allowing any sense of urgency or expectation to drop. You simply feel into your current experience.
Meditation has a reputation for being boring and difficult. It is considered a chore and becomes another part of an already busy to-do-list. This is a real shame because meditation can be very much the opposite. It can be very enjoyable; a form of deep relief and rejuvenation. It’s a chance to rest, reset, and prepare for our lives “out there” in the world. Your attitude going into meditation can greatly affect your practice. If this isn’t already glaringly obvious, I hope it is by the end of this post.
Generally, when you attempt activities with an attitude of playfulness, joy, and lack of expectation, they go well. The process is enjoyable because you don’t have goals that need to be accomplished in order to find joy. Instead of being attached to the fruits of your labor, you're connected to the evolution of the process itself.
You can even find joy if you aren't particularly good at whatever it is you're doing. See if you can relate. Think of a hobby you started many years ago. For me, it's my artwork. I have been working with pointillism for many years now. I always enjoy the slow process of watching something come to life. Even when my pictures don’t look like much I still find the process soothing. It brings a sense of relief and joy. This, in turn, inspires me to continue.
This is a wonderful positive feedback loop. What’s a positive feedback loop? If I spell it out for you, it would go something like this. I enjoy drawing intrinsically (it is fun in and of itself). My project can look terrible, but the process is still fun. This motivates me to draw more.
Now let’s add another level to the feedback loop. Over the years of practice, my abilities as an artist have continued to evolve and I have gained a sense of mastery. Now, I’m definitely no Picasso, but watching my projects unfold as planned infuses more energy into the process. So now, the more I draw, these flow states are not only deeper, but they are easier to access and enjoy. I not only leave drawing feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, but I leave with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
Now apply this principle to your meditation. If you go in with the attitude that it's going to be boring and difficult, will that inspire you to return? I know there are a lot of “meditation purists” out there who think meditation needs to be difficult, arduous, and a real to-do. “How can you expect good results if you don’t work at it?” they might say.
To this, I would say, “meditation is not like the rest of your life. Meditation is a deliberate break from the performance-driven mind.” You want to enjoy the process so you feel inspired to return. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The practice we are doing, in one sense, is the formal practice of relief. Why not allow yourself to feel a bit of that? If you leave your practice feeling refreshed, like you enjoyed yourself, wouldn’t that be something that naturally brings you back? The question becomes, how can you do this with a little more consistency?
Well, the first step is to take the pressure off. You don't meditate. You let yourself get meditated. You let go of control with your conscious mind, so your unconscious can take over. You drop into an effortless state. This is your intention as you go in. How can you do less? The idea is to use a mantra to create a felt experience of relief. Once you feel that, you let go of the mantra and let your mind drift. You are not making anything happen. You are deliberately allowing any sense of urgency or expectation to drop. You use the Mantra as a focal point. It gives your conscious mind something to do. As the mantra progresses to subtler levels of sensation, you can simply release it. Your mind will do the rest.
Meditation should be the time in your day when you feel like there is no pressure to perform or do well. Simply engaging in the process is enough (I would argue engaging in the process is enough regardless of what you’re doing, but that’s for another day). Meditation is process-driven, not goal-driven. If you’re trying to silence your mind I would ask you why?
No, seriously. Why? Think about it…
What would be the point of having a blank mind? Who wants to be blank, dull, or static? Meditation makes us more dynamic, more engaged in life. Your mind is active in meditation. It is refreshing and restoring itself (much the same way a cut or bruise does on your body). You’re not in charge of the restoration process of your mind, any more than you’re in charge of the restoration process of your body. Let the process take care of itself.
Meditation allows us to access many different parts of ourselves (some we may not have seen for a while). Let them come out and say hello. Enjoy the experience of being yourself. This is something that is rarely allowed in our society. Why not give yourself 20 minutes a day to just be you? No effort required.