Friday, January 04, 2013

How Do I Know I'm Doing It Right?

Here are some of the questions I‘m often asked while helping teach meditation:

How often should I meditate? How many times a day? Why couldn’t I empty my mind? What should be happening?

These are all great questions. Each of them has an answer that works for the person asking. But what they share is a single deeper question lurking behind them, which is perhaps the biggest question of all for new and experienced meditators alike:

How do I know I’m doing it right?

The good news is, if you’re meditating, chances are you’re doing just fine.

For one thing, the simplicity of our particular style of meditation makes it hard to screw up. You can explain it in a sentence: Sit still and notice what‘s happening.

It’s important to emphasize that it’s the ‘noticing’ part that’s important, not the ‘what’s happening’ part. Maybe you’re experiencing peace and serenity. Maybe you’re frustrated and distracted. Maybe you’re hearing the same two lines of a song you heard on the radio repeating over and over in your head.

Maybe you‘ll just be bored.

All those things are fine. They might not feel fine when they‘re happening, but the longer I’ve trained, the more I’ve come to realize that I‘m a poor judge of what I should or should not be experiencing.

If you’re sitting still and you’re paying attention, chances are you’re on the right track.

But for many of it, it isn’t enough to do it right. We need to know we’re doing it right. Or at least see some evidence that we aren’t doing it wrong.

I, personally, have not found that evidence in my sitting. I don’t find meditation any easier, more profound, or better now than when I started. It’s the same as it’s always been--sometimes joyous, sometimes distracted, always unpredictable.

I have noticed that my life outside of meditation changed. Other meditators have described similar experiences. So if you notice any of the following things, chances are, your practice is deepening whether you’re aware of it or not.

-Others tell you that you’ve changed even though it doesn’t feel like you’re doing anything differently.

-There is an effortlessness to your life. It feels like you are trying less hard, but accomplishing more.

- You experience what‘s happening more deeply when it‘s happening. Sights, sounds, scents, sensations…they aren’t stronger exactly, but you notice them more. You are aware of thoughts and feelings inside yourself that previously only existed in the background..

- You realize you still aren’t perfect and that meditation has not and will not ‘fix’ you. You are strangely okay with that.

How do we know we're doing it right?

We know we're doing it right when that question becomes less and less important.

Upcoming Meditation Instruction (see website for details)
Sunday, January 6 - Strathcona Library, Edmonton (2pm)
Saturday, January 26 - Strathcona Library, Edmonton (10:30am)

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 Saturday, January 5 - RCW New Year's Retribution - Glengarry Community Hall

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2 comments:

Pokee said...

That is actually one of the best "definitions" of how to meditate that I have ever heard.

Pokee said...

That is actually one of the best "how to meditate" explanantions that I've ever heard.