Is it working?
This is one of the biggest questions that comes up before, during and after meditation. This is something that really struggled with in the beginning.
Am I doing it?
Is it working?
What am I supposed to feel?
I found meditation to be really illusive, especially when I first began my practice. I asked myself these questions over and over. I asked others who had a mature practice these questions. I asked Google these questions.
These questions did not yield direct or consistent answers. So the illusiveness not only continued, but it became a pervasive. This was a particularly hard because I tied the results of these questions to the worthiness of meditation. And this makes logical sense because it is really hard to stick with something unless you see, feel or perceive results.
This concept is pretty foundational to the neurological pattern that governs habit in our brain. To keep something up, the brain must realize a ‘reward’ or benefit as a result of the effort or actions. This is something that Charles Duhigg clearly articulates in his book The Power of Habit. And lets be honest – meditation is hard so why would you do it if not for the benefits?
I now realize that this phase, this questioning period, was actually more perilous than I realized at the time. I was attaching a defined and obvious result or reward to the effort of my meditation practice. I didn’t understand the nature of meditation and this confusion and ignorance lead to dissatisfaction.
Did you notice something about that last sentence?
Attachment. Confusion. Dissatisfaction. These states, together, are the inputs to suffering. According to the 2nd Noble Truth of Buddhism, the cause of suffering is attachment.
Don’t stop reading now, because if you do, this post leaves you thinking that meditation causes suffering. Please keep reading.
Confusion, ignorance and attachment can have a very strong grip on our thought patterns. They can direct them. They can control them. Meditation is a time to pause, a time to create some distance between the real-deal-you (RDM) and the grip of ignorance, confusion and attachment.
So the more meditated, the less I needed to answer these questions. My reward became a sense of peace when it came to the illusiveness of meditation. I still find meditation to be profoundly personal, so I wouldn’t feel equipped to be able to answer those questions if asked. My answer would be this post. Meditation feels like the need for answers is absent. The confusion is absent. The dissatisfaction is absent.
I knew I was meditating because there was no need for answers.
Meditation is a practice. It is a time to practice being in a state where things may not have clarity, definition and controllable outcomes. When you are sitting you are preparing for times when ignorance, discomfort, suffering and attachment come up. Maybe they come up suddenly, or maybe they gradually grow around you. With this practice, the grip of ignorance, discomfort and suffering is no longer so harsh. It’s not as tight. You can pause and create space. And things have the potential to become OK.
Meditate & be well.