Being the Type-A person that I am, meditation can often feel like I am chasing my own tail in that the harder I try, the harder it seems to be.
Over the years I’ve noticed that when I set out to do anything, I can let my competitive side get the better of me…
As an insecure kid, I grew up thinking that I had to be the best at everything in order to make friends and to gain the respect of others.
Even today I hold myself to a ridiculously high standard.
If I can’t do it better than you, I don’t want to do it all….
But enough about me, let’s talk about you.
Are you trying to “win” meditation?
It’s not like we really can anyways, right?
So why do so many of us fall into this trap?
It’s not a game
Most people I’ve talked to about meditation know that sitting for a session is not about reaching a state of bliss.
Unfortunately, knowing this in our mind is one thing and practicing acceptance while we sit is another. In fact, when many of us sit down to meditate we experience a small amount of cognitive dissonance because a little part of us still wishes the mind was at peace.
The second we realize our mind is swarming with hundreds of uncontrollable thoughts, we beat ourselves up.
We tell ourselves that we will never get good at meditating or perhaps even worse, we tell ourselves that we’re not worthy of a calm and peaceful mind.
So, what’s going on here?
And more importantly, how can we stop trying to win something that can’t be won so we can experience a more fulfilling meditation practice?
Over the last 3+ years, I’ve found three things that have helped me keep meditation in perspective and keep me on track and consistent in my practice.
As you might remember from an earlier blog post, I start every meditation practice by stating an intention in my mind. By doing this, I’m effectively setting the course for my meditation trip. In other words, an intention helps me in the same way a compass helped ancient travelers.
Just as with a compass, anytime I feel like I’ve gotten off track, I can use my intention to help me get back on course.
Right before I close my eyes during my meditation practice I set an intention and remind myself of two things:
First, be kind to myself when I’ve noticed my mind has wandered…
Second, I don’t just try to get through the meditation practice so I can check it off my “to- do” list. I instead see if I can actually learn something about myself.
As you can tell, an intention does not need to be an elaborate call to the universe. It can be as simple as a small reminder or a gentle encouragement.
The point is, just as with anything in life, if we don’t live with intention we often find ourselves lost.
I cannot understate this enough!
BE NICE TO YOURSELF WHEN YOU MEDITATE!
It’s far too common for us to beat ourselves up when we first start to observe our minds.
When we don’t hold ourselves with compassion while we meditate, we set ourselves up for failure. This causes us to distance ourselves from the practice or worse, leave it all together.
This is why it is so important for us to hold ourselves with compassion and gentleness when we meditate.
Seeing that we have a cluttered and crazy mind doesn’t mean we can’t be good meditator’s. In fact, when you’re kind to yourself you will notice that observing how crazy your mind is from time to time is actually the point of meditation!
Being kind to ourselves allows us to go even deeper into our practice because let’s be honest here, most of us meditate in order to understand ourselves better.
This is why I encourage you to look at your mind as a dear friend when you sit down to meditate.
Your mind is not your adversary!
It is part of you and to deny the mind is to deny yourself.
I’m sure there are many of us that can sometimes feel like meditation is challenging because the thought of sitting with our own minds can be scary. Many of us avoid meditating simply because we can’t stand to listen to our thoughts.
Whether it’s a painful memory that you don’t want to relive or a nagging list of things you have to do, being alone with your thoughts can definitely cause anxiety.
What would happen though, if instead of resisting your mind, you practiced meditation with a level of curiosity?
Instead of avoiding your thoughts, you look at them with sincere interest and inquisitiveness.
You might find that if you look at your mind with curiosity it diminishes the suffering you feel when you avoid your mind because you are no longer trying to be somewhere other than where you are.
When you sit with your mind and try to learn from it rather than run from it, you create the space necessary to see your mind clearly.
Instead of asking “how” did my mind get this way, ask “why” is my mind this way in this moment.
Don’t try to answer anything, but rather, listen and see what comes up… the well of wisdom that resides within all of us is more powerful than we could ever imagine. So tap into it, listen and learn…
We hope you enjoyed this week’s post and we truly hope that you treat yourself with compassion this week as you meditate! We know that keeping up with a regular practice can be challenging but with kindness and curiosity towards yourself you can set yourself up for success and better understanding.
Thank you as always for reading this week’s blog!
I’d love to know if there are any other people out there who try to “win” meditation.
If so, how the hell do you get yourself back on track and encourage yourself to keep going?!
Drop us a line and let us know!
Thats really a great post! I wanted to know if you use any app for meditation or special gear! That would be a great help. I personally use headspace, but i also find meditating with just a timer distraction free! I would love to know your thoughts!
I believe I wrote a post about this 🙂 https://meditatingmillennials.com/2018/05/23/how-to-start-a-meditation-practice/ But at a high level I started with Headspace and use it intermittently. Now and for the most part do a 30 minute vipassina or metta practice. I also highly recommend going on retreat. Ive only done a 5 day retreat so far but it was very powerful. Here’s another post about my experience on retreat at Spirit Rock in California: https://meditatingmillennials.com/2018/05/17/dude-be-kind-to-yourself/