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Overcoming Expectations

Discussion in 'Meditation Chatter Box' started by Midnight, Feb 11, 2010.

  1. Midnight

    Midnight Member

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    Hey all,

    This thread isn't about why I'm not feeling the same thing when I meditate or anything like that, but more about how do I overcome having expectations from meditation...

    I meditated today after reading a thread about meditation not really having a purpose, but done for the sake of it. This really rang out to me, and I felt inspired to meditate without worrying about results. I felt sort of an explosion (or splash) of peacefulness and bliss on me and I was able to reach a fairly deep state in a few minutes.

    Now, the issue is that I've been through this situation before many times, and I'm kind of sick of it happening. The meditation state happens to me, and then I start getting attached to it.

    I recently came across the Discover Meditation course and I think it's great. I actually stopped trying to get in that state, and just started to "be". This led me to some expectations of how my meditation was going to be from now on, and I immediately realized that thinking that way was totally backwards for meditation. After thinking about not expecting, etc, during meditation, I get sort of an anxiety pain in my stomach, and that kind of makes me stop, probably because I conditioned myself to think I was doing it "wrong" because of that.

    So I ask you folks, how did you manage to overcome expecting from meditation, and truly not having a purpose? Is it something that's learned? Is it something that occurs only after meditation? Do I have to try keeping this mindset till it's real? I'm trying to accept what's there, but I get the feeling it's useless unless I truly accept it.

    I hope I can get some solid answers, but I'm not EXPECTING solid answers. Haha
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2010
  2. Coenrad Morgan

    Coenrad Morgan Member

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    "Meditation is not what you think it is"

    Hi Midnight,

    Joe Vitale had a t-shirt which read, "Meditation is not what you THINK it is".

    Expectation, how one overcomes it, best advice I could possibly give myself and therefore offer it to you, is, never mind how you think it went, how do you feel afterwards?

    Based on this you also could evaluate your meditation experience on why you started meditating in the first place, and based on that is it full-filling that role for you, silent communion with Divinity, yours or another or what ever your reason was.

    The final bit I would give you is this, if you ask what you should be doing, you will get a mass of replies, but beyond the guidelines of "let (not make it, LET it) your mind settle on its own and in its own way to a point best described as "restful awareness", ITS YOUR experience aimed at full-filling a need you had initially, and if that need is being met. HOW YOU FEEL and how meditation fits into YOUR life is the final word on all this, just let it.

    Meditation having no purpose........:confused:, then why do it, meditation from a point where you set an intention ( Why I am doing this) and then relax into it along the guideline of let your thoughts just slip past, don't get attached to them......to a point that works for you, your there, what ever that means to you, that makes more sense. As for pleasant experiences and high water marks, yes, I did a heart Chakra meditation last year, the experience was something I cannot explain, all I can say is it was so profound that I spontaneously uttered, "God is that you?", it came and went in a flash, I have not had the same experience since, nor do I go after it, I just know that there is a state of consciousness that feels as that did, but know that what you chase runs away, so I just keep going, I would be interested in experiencing that state again and remaining in it, but if it doesn't happen again, at least I had the once, as for the rest of the time, I settle into the comfort of inner stillness and that alone is what I "went there for".

    Not wanting expectations is an expectation and your human nature is riddled with similar paradox's, the Buddhist monk wanting to be desire-less, thus creates yet another desire by not wanting it. The way around it, is to just let it arise, not get tangled in it and go beyond it to rest-full alertness, its all about letting and allowing.

    I hope this helps, I can only speak from own experience not "THE FACTS", because there aren't any until you accept them as so. I don't meditate for others, its impossible, therefore I do so for myself, my way, along guidelines, one of which is what to expect based on how I feel afterwards, if I don't hit the target, fine, not attached to it, next time. If I have a hard time and its not working for me there are 2 ways I consistently get around it, the required target of "restful awareness" not being met, why and how could I alter or improve my practice next time and obviously Life Flow technology which helps much like training wheels do, if your not using it, down load the sample track and set it to repeat, see how that works for you.

    As long as you benefit from the practice, its a gentle practice not a forceful one, and you consistently try to get to a set point without dogged force, you will get there more and more often, just allow yourself and all will go well; every day, in every way, better and better and better.

    Go by what and how you feel not what you think should have happened or not happened, its an art, and a practice that takes repetitive refinement over time, be gentle with yourself, anxious stomach pain starts in thought, switch off, relax, enjoy.

    Most Sincerely
    Coenrad
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2010
  3. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    Hi Midnight,

    It's difficult to add to what Coenrad has written as there is so much truth in what he says. However, perhaps me putting my answers in my own words will offer the same (or different) perspective which may be understood differently, hey let's just let it flow and see what happens... :D

    You sort of contradict yourself, or perhaps you haven't been clear in describing the thread that told you that. If it truly were a case of "Meditation has no purpose, it's just done for the sake of it" then that would be the same as hanging a picture on your wall, just because you can, and not because you like the picture in any way.... i.e. completely pointless, so why would you bother in the first place.

    The fact that you chose to meditate would imply that your understanding of that, or the details contained in that thread, were somewhat more detailed or explanatory (perhaps you could point us to where you read it so we can take a read too :rolleyes:).

    My understanding would be that, in a sense, Yes, there is no purpose during meditation, as to have a purpose during it, would be to attach yourself to that purpose and actually prevent you from entering the state of meditation completely i.e. holding on to conscious ideas or thoughts or expectations. (which I think is perhaps where you were coming from with your understanding).

    But, there IS a purpose to meditation, and that purpose can be seen by the effects that meditation has on us when we are not meditating. Many people meditate and nigh on all of them find benefit in their lives from doing so. That is the purpose of meditation, and that is certainly not just meditating for the sake of it.

    Everyone, unless they are eternally present, has expectations. That is the nature of mind and how it is always looking to the future and keeping us from the present. It is the mind seeking a goal in the future, based on ideas and experience from the past. You won't just get rid of expectation that easily, so you would be wrong to expect that (scuse the pun!).

    First things first, there is no such thing as "doing it wrong". Each meditation experience will differ as no two events in time can even be identical. Therefore, knowing that, any expectation we have can only be an incorrect expectation, so we may as well just choose to let that go... easier said than done sometimes.

    We all start our meditation with the expectation that we are going to meditate, but once we sit down and start, we can easily let go of that expectation as we know we have got there. Likewise, having expectations of what will happen during the meditation can be let go. Just the knowledge that it will be an experience in it's own right, can help with letting it go.

    Through practicing meditation, we assist ourselves in becoming more 'aware'. With this awareness, we can improve our meditation practice, as it will assist us in becoming aware of the mind bringing up thoughts during the practice, whether these thoughts are what we're going to be doing later on, what has happened in the past, or some expectation or idea about the meditation itself. Becoming aware that we have this awareness, can allow us to use it and recognise the rising throughts, and then allow us to act to let those thoughts go and let the meditative state come back to us. Simply, by reading that paragraph, this will have raised your awareness in a sense and assist in letting this happen.

    Just a short point on the use of "trying" in our language...

    "Trying" is an 'in-between' state. It is neither success nor failure. If we tell ourselves we will "try" and do something, then this does not instruct our unconscious mind what outcome we desire from the action, thus it doesn't know what subtle things to look out for to achieve an outcome, and hence we end up floundering blindly, maybe succeeding or maybe failing.

    So, when we want to achieve something avoid using the word "try". i.e. avoid saying "I will try and lose weight" but rephrase it as a successful outcome, and importantly, put it in the present tense*, so we have something like "I am my ideal weight of 140 kilos". You may believe the statement to be untrue, but stating it like this tells our unconscious mind what the goal is and let's it act on it in the present moment.

    * Present tense is important. The saying "Tomorrow never comes" says it all. If you phrase your desires in the future the unconscious mind will not choose to act on them now, as the future is always the future, so it will happily leave it there.

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  4. Itlandm

    Itlandm Member

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    Hi Midnight,
    I get what you are saying. I know I started a thread months ago on that very topic, actually. That meditation seems to be most effective when you do it as a duty, as part of your religious practice, or just a part of your lifestyle. I still believe this is so. Practicing meditation for a narrow purpose such as healing a specific ailment of body or mind is less effective. This has been known for thousands of years. Another favorite saying of mine is "meditation is not medication", meaning you are not curing a specific ailment but your whole person. For this reason, as Coenrad points out, it is best to meditate and then find out afterwards what benefits it caused you.

    You may think of this as the "second level" of getting free from attachment. Expecting to not have expectations, that is pretty advanced, don't you think? But luckily the technique is exactly the same as when you first sat down to meditate: "Don't get angry, don't get upset, don't feel guilty. Just return to your mantra."
     
  5. Bhavya

    Bhavya Member

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    Hi Midnight
    It seems to me that you have to distinguish between wanting the benefits that meditation can bring - which is the motivating factor - and your attachment to a particular experience - going deep and feeling peace. As the others pointed out, we need to have a reason to maintain a meditation practice (often different for different people) whereas expecting to repeat deep or blissful meditations is not helpful.

    The good news is that you're aware of your expectations which is the first step towards dissolving the attachment. If you can simply accept that expectations have arisen in your mind, observing without reacting and knowing that all mental states are temporary, you'll find that the expectations will pass in their own time as all things must. (Whereas aversion to those same expectations will strengthen them)

    One thing meditation does is show us our mental patterns if we practice mindfulness. It is clearly one of the benefits of meditating, allowing us to recognize when we enter unhelpful states. We can learn to laugh a little at our human foibles ..."Oh, OK, there's that habit again..expectations!" which takes the sting out of it.

    We all have our own unique spiritual path. There's no one 'perfect' way to meditate. It's a journey of discovery and the lighter we tread, the easier it'll be, and much much more fun! Just surrender and trust that you're guided :)

    Bhavya
     
  6. Midnight

    Midnight Member

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    This is why you guys are so awesome :)

    I actually came upon some of these realizations while I was in that state yesterday. I truly began to believe that the thoughts and emotions that are reactions to my thoughts are really not me. I began to watch my thoughts more often since yesterday, and the mind having expectations did not really phase me like it usually does. Probably because I hadn't been mindful in quite a while.

    To clarify, meditation not having a purpose wasn't really a mistype. It's a bit hard to explain, but it really echoed within me when i read it in this thread

    http://www.project-meditation.org/community/meditation-chatter-box/1741-expectations.html

    To just kind of do it because it's an enjoyable part of being human. That really rang out to me. And sort of what Giles said about not having a purpose while "meditating" (I know it's not a verb :p)

    @Bhavya: Yeah, i really became aware of the mental patterns in my head yesterday, and I just watched them. I realized that not being able to let go of expectations came from not being mindful, a practice I shall keep up.

    Thank you Coenrad, Giles, Itlandm, and Bhavya so much for typing your inspiring replies. They were all great and really helpful.
     

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