There is a very famous Zen story of a student who wanted to learn martial arts. He went to a famous Zen master and asked him:
“I am a very sincere student and want to learn and master martial arts. How much time will it take me to master martial arts?”
The Zen master replied causally – 10 years.
Hearing the Zen master answer, the student said again “I want to learn quicker than this. I will put more effort and will be more regular in my practice. Then how much time will it take me to learn martial arts?”
The Zen master pondered over the question for a while and replied – 20 years.
Moral of the story: The mind is always in a hurry to achieve its goals and ambitions.
When you think about meditation, do you ever find yourself thinking about it in terms of “doing” and “achieving”? Do you expect results? Do you measure progress and feel like you’re missing out if “nothing” is happening?
You’re not alone! The modern culture is all about doing. Achieving. More. Success. Faster. But in so doing, we miss the point of meditation which is simply to BE. It’s not an active state of doing – one can say that even the objective of observing your thoughts and feelings can be considered a state of doing!
I invite you to release any need or desire for results or progress. I know, we’re conditioned to think along those lines so it can be challenging!
When we plant a garden, we always imagine the progress that our beloved plants go through as they mature and produce exquisite blooms or delicious fruits and vegetables.
When we wake up in the morning we think about all the stuff we have to accomplish that day (and stress ourselves out about not being able to do it all!). So don’t worry if you feel that your meditation practice has become another vehicle for achieving some desired state.
The point of meditation is about understanding the mind and witnessing its desires. Simply observing, non-judgmentally.
I highly recommend the “next” technique whenever you’re sitting with yourself and observing the mind’s wanderings:
Whenever you realize that you’ve gotten caught up in a thought and you’re no longer observing but participating, simply say, “next” (or a word that signals stopping your participation in this thought) and allow another thought to bubble up on its own.
We are not meditating to achieve anything but to understand our real nature and go beyond the mind. Meditation is the art of witnessing our desires, goals, ambitions and to transcend this ever desiring mind.
Release your expectations of what meditation “should” do for you. BEING is not an act of doing, it is an act of observing and experiencing.
It’s easier than you might imagine to “next” yourself off a thought that has captured your attention – especially when you’re meditating with LifeFlow!
You’ll find that as you practice this technique, your mind will become more and more comfortable with moments of silence… and these moments of silence will become longer and longer until one day you’ll realize that you’re okay with this silence… that it’s peaceful, soothing, stress-free, not in a hurry, not intent on achieving anything…
…and if the silence doesn’t come, that’s okay too! Really!
Release any expectation of achieving a silent mind, or any other state. Be with what is and that is YOU.
Allow yourself to feel any emotions without becoming involved with the thoughts that generated them.
So the next time you need to question the point of meditation, simply “Next” yourself into the pause between thoughts and enjoy, with wonder and fascination, the workings of your mind.