Don’t idealize meditation

Meditating on the beach

Meditation is like a comforting best friend.

Meditation – is it ‘The Answer’ to a happy, calm life?

I have been teaching meditation in workplaces and in public classes for over 4 years now.  I see the range of attitudes people have when they are considering learning meditation, and when they are coming to a class for the first time.  I see which attitudes generally result in a ‘successful’ meditation learning and sustained experience.  What I saw was validated when I read Jon Kabat-Zinn’s mindfulness book ‘Full Catastrophe Living’.

Here are the 3 general attitudes people come to meditation with:

  1. The ‘true believer’:  “Meditation must be ‘the answer’.  If I meditate, it will transform me.” — this person may be disappointed, because he’ll find out that he’s essentially the same person he was before he meditated.
  2. The ‘pessimist’:  “I’ll try it, but it’s not going to work for me.” — this person may try meditation once or twice, and as soon as he feels anxious or a lack of calm, he will come to the conclusion that meditation doesn’t work and ‘It’s not for me’.
  3. The ‘open-minded’ individual:   “I’m not sure if meditation will work for me, but I’m willing to give it a good try.  I’ll make sure I get good instruction, and I’ll do it for awhile before I decide if it’s right for me.” — Bingo!  this is the best attitude to have when starting to learn meditation. It’s OK to be a bit skeptical.  But this person is willing to take the time to learn and practice, and not make a judgment too quickly.

Creating a long-term meditation practice that gives you sustained benefits takes commitment.  It’s a practice that needs to be cultivated.

For me and many others, meditation and mindfulness does indeed provide a layer of calm in our lives, but it does not remove the ups and downs of life, and nor should it.

If you are a meditator, do you remember what attitude you had when you started to learn?


2 thoughts on “Don’t idealize meditation

  1. Curiosity brought me to meditation. Witnessing the way in which the people I knew that practice meditation and how they seemed to be able to handle situations much more calmly and with a sense of purpose lead me to want to know more. I wanted to find a space in my very busy life to stop and become mindful if only for a few minutes a day. I can honestly say this is one time when curiosity helped this cat.

    • Hello Grasshopper 🙂
      Curiosity has paid off for you. You’ve the done ‘work’ and continue to do so. You’ve always had a wonderful perspective and attitude for this, and I’m so happy to know that it was helped you.

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