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:
- 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.
- 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’.
- 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?