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Any meditation you can walk away from is a good meditation

chuck-yeager

Meditation’s not necessarily going to be easy or pleasant. You may find that you’re sitting with a chaotic mind, or that you’re falling asleep, or that you have physical discomfort. And there can be a tendency to label those times as “bad” meditations.

If that happens to you, I have two sayings that you might find useful:

  1. “Any meditation you can walk away from is a good meditation.”
  2. “The only bad meditation is the one you didn’t do.”

It’s the doing of the practice that’s the main thing; whether or not there was pleasure present isn’t that important.

Ironically, though, the less you worry about whether your meditation is pleasant or not and the more you just get on with doing it, the more likely it is that your meditation will be pleasurable. Life’s funny that way.

Just do it. It may not be easy, but it changes you in ways that make your life more meaningful, rich, connected, and (at times at least) joyful.

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About Bodhipaksa

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Bodhipaksa is a Buddhist practitioner and teacher, a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order, and a published author. He founded Wildmind in 2001. Bodhipaksa has published many guided meditation CDs and guided meditation MP3s.

He teaches at Aryaloka Buddhist Center in Newmarket, New Hampshire. You can follow Bodhipaksa on Twitter, join him on Facebook, or hang out with him on .

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Comments

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Comment from IX
Time: September 10, 2013, 9:45 am

Enjoyed the post. Like the visual. Thanks for the encouragement!

@IXs_Mind

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: September 10, 2013, 10:40 am

It’s from one of my favorite films.

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Comment from Stephen Gladstone
Time: September 10, 2013, 10:41 am

Hi Bodhipaksa, Completely agree with you, i was made aware of this at the very beginning of my meditation instruction and have been practicing daily for 2 years now and not comparing each session to each other. I just sit and watch my breath and when thoughts, images even music sometime fill my head i mark them as thinking and return focus to my breath. Over the 2 years i have gradually extended daily 20 minutes to 50 minutes. Over the 2 years some of the sessions have been extremely full of thoughts other times not, all the time thankfully not making comparisons if i had i think i might of given up. I cant describe how much the quality of my life has improved since embarking on my meditation journey i am just grateful that it has. Recently though i have found something occurring in each practice that is consistent and slightly disconcerting and that is my breathing seems to vanish and i don’t feel i am breathing any longer logically i know i am but my breath seems to stop and yet i don’t feel the need to breath. This is not a great concern because i know its impossible to stop breathing completely but its disconcerting enough to spoil my focus. Any ideas what is happening?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: September 10, 2013, 10:57 am

Some people say that the sensations of the breathing become so subtle that they no longer notice them. And some people say that that’s a sign that a jhana state is arising. I don’t get that particular sign, myself, although I do experience jhana regularly. If this is the start of jhana for you, then I’d suggest that you notice and appreciate three things:

  1. Any periods of quietness in the mind — even short periods that are thought-free, or periods where thoughts “thin out” and are less substantial.
  2. Pleasurable sensations in the body as a whole, or in parts of the body.
  3. Joy.

Look for them in that order. If any one of them isn’t particularly prominent, then gently encourage its arising just by relaxing and being attentive.

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Comment from Andy R
Time: September 10, 2013, 4:06 pm

Brilliant choice of picture. Made me laugh. And I will remember it next time I’m walking away from one of “those” sessions.
(What’s the film?)

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Comment from Erika
Time: September 10, 2013, 4:50 pm

What is jhana?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: September 10, 2013, 10:17 pm

It’s one of the last scenes in The Right Stuff. This is Sam Shepard playing Chuck Yeager, walking away from the crash of the NF-104 Starfighter. OK, I admit I looked up the name of the plane.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: September 10, 2013, 10:23 pm

Jhana just means “absorption” or even “meditation,” but in contemporary terms it refers to a “flow” state where your meditation becomes effortless, pleasurable, and concentrated. It’s not an unworldly or strange state. Lots of people experience jhana outside of meditation. Think of the best moods you’ve ever been in — those were probably jhana states, where you really enjoyed everything you did.

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Comment from Stephen Gladstone
Time: September 11, 2013, 10:16 am

Thank You for taken the time to reply Bhodhipaksa much appreciated.

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Comment from David
Time: September 12, 2013, 1:29 pm

That image with the caption “Any meditation you can walk away from is a good meditation.” deserves a place in the altar next to the Buddha and the incense timer : )

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: September 16, 2013, 1:28 pm

You’re welcome, Stephen.

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