A lot of energy is wasted in considering whether our meditations are “good meditations” or “bad meditations,” especially for relative beginners.
For most people, a good meditation is one that is easy. Things go according to plan, or better! The mind isn’t hard to work with. There aren’t too many distractions. We don’t feel any strongly unpleasant mental states such as anxiety or resentment. We may positively enjoy the meditation. A “bad meditation” is the opposite.
And we can end up feeling a bit demoralized when we experience these “bad meditations.” We create stories about how we’re not good at meditating, or the meditation practice isn’t the right one for us, or we need a … Read more »
Stuart Valentine, who’s participating in the 100 Day Challenge, wrote about how fear of other’s judgements can stop us from getting started:
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Being a born pessimist, one of the first things that occurred to me about the 100 Day Challenge was that if I did it, I would have to do it PERFECTLY. And this was clearly impossible, so there was no point trying.
‘Scoring’ just 99 out of 100 would be a disaster. I would feel irritated with myself, embarrassed, would have let myself and others down… and many other negative emotions I projected on to this ‘awful’ event.
If I ended on 90 out of 100, or heavens forbid 89 out of 100,
It astonishes me how much time I spend making judgements about people, but the truly surprising thing is that although it makes me feel bad, I keep doing it. And it leads to unfortunate interactions with people which ends up causing them suffering too.
One thing that protects us against this kind of self-imposed suffering is lovingkindness (metta) practice. Lovingkindness is an important complement to mindfulness practice.
To cultivate metta we can do something as simple as repeat to ourselves, “May you be well; may you be happy” as we see others. We can do this while walking or driving, for example.
We can take a more reflective approach to cultivating lovingkindness. I often consider … Read more »
Here is a list of 12 benchmarks of spiritual practice (Saskia Davis’s Symptoms of Inner Peace) with examples of how I work with them. This list is also a way to know that our spiritual practice is bearing fruit.
1. An increased tendency to allow things happen rather than make them happen
As a mom of two children I spent many years trying to make things happen. I wanted my children to act in certain ways, eat certain foods, choose certain clothing, etc. etc. As they got older and I watched myself trying to be “in control”, I realized I could trust them to be themselves. I realized I could allow them to make … Read more »