It seems appropriate to refresh our view on meditation. It’s why and how, its myths and its realities.
An extensive review about meditation is posted on our web site:
Research shows over and over again that between 80%- 85% of people who start meditation with various degree of understanding, excitement and expectation will quit within 2 to 3 months. WHY?
As usual the reasons given are almost always “not me” causes. It is our #1 denial.
Among these “not me” reasons are lack of time, new priorities, new issues (health, family...), workload, etc.
Using one- on -one private interview the 15 main reasons given are tricks of the mind for quitting.
They are listed in a non-specific order:
Mind trick #1:
“I thought the purpose of meditation was to relax, to be happy and to clear my mind quickly”.
Meditation has nothing to do with relaxation, happiness and clearing the mind. These fallacies have been used as a marketing tool to attract people to commercial meditation courses and paying retreats.
Meditation is a physical and mental concentration exercise based on mindfulness. Its main goal is to learn how to be aware of our thoughts and feelings in order to manage if not to control them. Our ego mind is the main source of our negative feelings. Learning to be mindful to them is the first necessary step towards their control. It is only after learning how to manage our thoughts and feelings that serenity and quietness may appear but never before. Serenity and quietness are the late by-products of our controlled mind. This is how mindfulness meditation, focusing without analysis & judgment, works.
Mind trick #2
“Based on my readings I thought that meditation was easy”
There is nothing in Zen Buddhism literature stating that meditation is easy. Again this is a marketing tool to attract beginners and their wallets. Being an intense concentration exercise meditation is in fact very demanding requiring understanding, patience, perseverance, doubt, and a non-judgmental attitude regarding the quality of our meditation, and ongoing support if not guidance.
Mind trick #3
“I read that practicing alone 10 min. twice a week is enough to achieve inner peace. It didn’t work”.
It is better than nothing but just 10min. once a while is also close to nothing. The practice is cumulative.
Beside, inner peace is an illusion. Practicing once a while is a total waste of time and a great delusion.
Mind trick #4
“I am quitting because after few weeks the quality of my meditation remained very bad. My mind is jumping all over and I cannot stop my thoughts. I am able to focus on my breathing only for few seconds.”
Trying to fight against incoming thoughts or emotions will trigger the opposite effect, guarantee!
If being unable to stop thoughts were a cause of quitting, 25,000-year-old meditation would not exist anymore. Judging the quality of our meditation is a fantastic tool used by our mind to trap us in a discouragement state. “I cannot meditate well therefore I am quitting”. Thoughts always pop-out even among Zen Masters and Zen monks practicing for zillion of years. Don’t judge the quality of your meditation. Just do it as it goes.
Mind trick #5
“I am quitting because if I should not judge the quality of my meditation, how do I know its beneficial effects? Isn’t it a waste of time?”
Meditation is teaching us to be aware of then to control our outpouring flow of thoughts and feelings. You will feel its positive effects during your day- to- day life by being more mindful to your thoughts and feelings and therefore you will be able to manage them in a more effective way than before.
Mind trick #6
“Initially I found meditation exiting now it is quite routine even boring.... I am quitting”.
Again labeling and judging your meditation positively or negatively is a mind trick to delude you. Meditation is just what it is: a mind-body mindfulness-based focusing exercise. Always be careful of any of your judgments especially if they pop-out without any purpose and when no decision is required.
No one should practice meditation because it could be exciting, relaxing or a way to kill time.
No one should start meditation with huge expectation. The fall will be painful.
Mind trick #7
“Guided meditation is easier, just following the instructions from the teacher in class or on line.”
Guided meditation is a North American invention and since meditation is pure self-practice this guided one is not meditation. Initial coaching is necessary but not forever.
Mind trick #8
“I don’t need meditation group practice”.
In theory yes. but group practice is far more powerful that the solo one. Both are needed.
Mind trick #9
“I found using meditating audio tapes a good way to practice”.
As long you are not listening to them.
Mind trick #10
“I read that it takes few months to achieve something like awakening”
It may take few days, weeks, few months, few years, few lives. It may never happen. Don’t be an accountant.
Mind trick #11
“I quit meditation because I don’t have the skills to do it”.
Again this is a mindset. Like breathing or walking no specific skills are required.
“I am quitting because it is too selfish.”
Seems that way but...by discovering and appreciating yourself better you will be able to help others more efficiently. First by learning to be compassionate with us it is a great way to be compassionate with others.
Mind trick #13
“I am meditating pretty well now. I do not need to pursue”.
If you think that you meditate well you are still victim of your judgment, illusion and feelings meaning that you have not been meditating properly or long enough.
Mind trick #14 is the opposite of #13
“I don’t meditate well therefore I am quitting”.
If you think you are not meditating well you are also still victim of your judgment, illusion and feelings meaning that you have not meditating properly or long enough.
“ I am quitting because I don’t like the teacher”
Fact: Wonderful get a new one.
Thank you. Ven. Ji Gong Sunim Oct 2015
For a complete list of Dharma talks (Zen teaching) please go to http://www.mindfulnesszenmeditation.ca/category/zen-keys/: è list of subjects (posts) on the right.