Meditation: How do I know I am progressing?
The purpose of meditation is to improve our quality of life that is 1) being able to have a better control of our stress and 2) to control our restless ego-driven mind producing negative emotions, daydreaming and ongoing useless labeling. The ultimate goal of meditation is to achieve serenity within self and altruism / compassion for others.
Our main source of “suffering” is self-induced and has 3 roots: clinging, hatred and illusions. They are creating all kind of struggles and emotional storms. By learning to tame these 3self-induced sources, we should be able to reduce if not eliminate suffering by accepting then controlling our emotions and finally to achieve peaceful mind and serenity.
This is how quality of life is improved not only for self but also in our relationships with others.
Do solo meditation every day & weekly group practice will make my meditation easier and its quality better?
- Contrary to any other practices such as playing a musical instrument, practicing meditation will not to improve its quality. Quality of meditation is not related to quantity of practice. However and regardless its quality, its benefits are cumulative. Controlling totally our restless mind during meditation in order to achieve a no-thinking quiet and “empty” mind for many minutes is impossible.
Remember that our mind loves to wander here and there in order to control us and hates to be told what to do such as focusing on breathing or something else.
So, struggling during meditation is part of the practice even for those who have being meditating for many years. There are no exceptions and this is why, too often, we are judging our meditation negatively.
Judging negatively the quality of our mediation is one of the main reasons why 90% of new comers quit within few weeks. Our mind is a judging machine and he is going to use this judgment tool to convince you quit meditation by telling you how bad you are during meditation.
So, How do I know I am progressing with my meditation practice?
You will notice the benefits of meditation not on its quality per se —- which will be always irregular and frustrating —but by its progressive and subtle positive effects on the following components:
1-You will perceive your self-image more positively.
2-You will watch and pay more attention to 1)your body, 2)what he is doing, and 3) your wandering mind,
making it is easier to control its mental output especially dream states, emotions, expectations, judgments, etc. The monkey mind becomes tamed, less restless and a bit quieter. It is like reducing the sound of your TV.
3-You will learn to accept your struggles rather than fighting them in order to neutralize their emotional reactions before looking for a rational solution.
4-You will also discover how easier it becomes to concentrate on a specific task without been distracted.
Monotasking rather than multitasking becomes the rule and it is more enjoyable.
5- Medical benefits such as stress control, memory, blood pressure will be part of another talk.
About your present environment:
1-You will pay stronger and deeper attention to the present moment and its contents rather than
wandering all the time in past and future with regrets, expectations, worries and many more.
2-You will improve your social relationship with more attention, tolerance, patience and less judgments
and less labeling about people, events and things. Stopping labeling brings great release.
About your own meditation practice:
Meditation practice will become easier even when struggling. It will become part of your regular way of
life like eating, sleeping or brushing your teeth. You will not look for excuses such as vacations,
illness, new priorities, new job for skipping it even during difficult times.
You will practice mini mindfulness exercise several times such as focusing few min. on breathing, walking,
eating, listening, etc…using a non-decisional, non-judgmental and non- emotional attitude.
The practice of mindfulness meditation is always beneficial even if its quality remains poor and you are not making any progress even after few weeks even months. This is a mind trick.
Don’t judge your practice and accept the struggle the same way we accept other struggles in life. The benefits of mindfulness meditation such as medical and quality of life have been proven over and over scientifically for many years. We talked about them and will do it again.
Use your mind only when you need it and don’t let it and its thoughts to control and deceive you.
Paying attention to our surrounding and concrete reality will reveal your genuine self, the one who is awake
and this is awakening or enlightenment.
G.Arnaud Painvin MD Zen Master & Dharma teacher