Day 25 of Wildmind’s 100 Day Meditation Challenge
One quarter of the way to 100 days :)
Sometimes we see signs of progress in our meditation, like times the mind becomes much calmer, or when we feel an unusual level of joy. It’s good to have these “road signs,” but it’s best not to grasp after attaining anything. Sometimes the mind is like a toddler asking “are we there yet?” We have to remind ourselves to be grown-up drivers; the journey takes as long as it takes, and so we just stay focused on the bit of road we’re driving on now.
Progress (unlike driving) isn’t linear, though. We’ll tend, over time, to see these signs appear, and we’ll have more sits where it all starts to “flow.” But there will also be bad days, and weeks, and sometimes longer periods. But the commitment to practice pays off, so stick with it. That’s the point of this challenge.
We’re also often not conscious of the progress we’re making. Much of it is happening below the threshold of consciousness. (Sometimes even other people notice it in us but we don’t see it ourselves.) When you’re meditating you’re doing things like growing new neurons and developing new pathways in the brain, and those things may not have any tangible effects for a while. But then you find that you’re calm in a situation that would normally make you angry or stressed…
Changes sometimes happen quite quickly, though, because we’re learning to use resources we didn’t know we had at our disposal. For example there already are regulatory pathways in the brain that allow us to moderate our emotional states of fear, anger, craving, etc., but until we learn to use them they’re not of much use to us. Then we discover that being mindful (which is employing these regulatory pathways) allows us to be calmer and more self-possessed — quite quickly.
So I’d encourage you to trust the process, which you probably already do to a large extent, if you’ve started meditating. Enjoy and appreciate the signs of progress when they’re present. Even seek them out, because sometimes we overlook the positive. But when they’re not apparent, accept that that’s OK.