Why do we in the West make things so dang difficult? Meditation is not nearly as challenging as our Western teachers would have us believe. Let’s take another look at meditation and how to make it approachable, accessible and EASY for everyone!
How the Western influence tainted meditation
Why do we make things so dang difficult? Meditation is supposed to be a life-giving, peace-generating, love-producing practice. Instead, do you know what we have done? We have made it into an unattainable goal and worse yet….we have made it work! Come on already, don’t we already work hard enough? Meditation is supposed to be a break from work, and not only a re-treat…but a treat for ourselves. So to begin with, let’s strip away some of the ways that the Western influence and perspective has tainted meditation and bring it back to what it is supposed to be….EASY and WONDERFUL!
Stripping Away Western Trapping
Here are the things we Westerners have added to meditation and in doing so, wrecked it for everyone:
- A goal. Somewhere in the Western interpretation, we have added goals to the process of meditation. The goal is 30 minutes, two times a day (or something like that) and the other goal is the desired outcome….which leads me to number 2
- A desired outcome. Somehow, somewhere, we decided that the desired outcome of meditation is something like: silence, bliss, peace, ecstasy. Peshaw!!!!!! This leads me to number 3
- Judgment We set a goal, we expect and outcome and if we don’t get #1 or #2 above, we judge our experience as “We did it wrong…we didn’t do it enough, long enough, hard enough, etc. etc. etc.” Which then leads to number 4
- The Perfect Formula Then someone decided there must be a perfect formula, perfect outfit, perfect meditation cushion, perfect incense, perfect candle, perfect mala beads, etc. Now meditation has suddenly become about the formula or the stuff….and if we don’t have one or all of the above, then we have FAILED.
- Judgment Which leads us back to judgment.
Setting the Record Straight
Now, let’s set the record straight.
- The goal in meditation is NO GOAL! The only goal is to SHOW UP and DO IT. This is why it is called PRACTICE!
- There is NO desired outcome. As my children’s kindergarten teacher said, “You get what you get, so don’t have a fit.” This is equally true for meditation. You get what you get….just because….not because you did it right or wrong or anything else….if you get a barrage of thoughts…then so be it. If you got peace…yay….but that doesn’t mean you did it right today and wrong yesterday. You just get what you get. PERIOD
- NO JUDGMENT in meditation. You show up. You practice. That is it! There is no right way, wrong way, enough way. You just show up and BE…no judgment, no censoring, no second-guessing. JUST BE.
- NO PERFECT – And there is certainly no perfect formula, no “right” number of times, correct mantra, right outfit. Meditation is as intimate,personal and unique as a snowflake. What works for you might not work for another and what worked today might not work tomorrow.
- NO JUDGMENT….this one bears repeating!
Making Meditation Easy
So….here is a simply formula for meditation and one that may (or may not) work for you…..but you could at least try it and see what happens and in the end, know that at least you showed up and practiced…which is ultimately all you are expected to do.
1) Place – Find a place in your home (or office or outside) that is comfortable and somewhat free of distractions (this part will later become unnecessary….but it is a good place to start) and sit there.
2) Transition Tool – Find a tool that can help ease you into your practice, something that helps to calm your mind – music, a mantra, a chant, movement (yoga, tai chi, dance, running, etc.), reading scripture (or some other inspirational wisdom source).
3) SIT – that’s it….just sit. Be. Be quiet. Do nothing. Expect nothing. JUST BE.
4)Distractions – WILL COME. Thoughts, ideas, to-do lists, obsessive thoughts, itineraries, etc. etc. etc. JUST WATCH them. Observe them. Acknowledge them. Say “Hi” I see you. THEN….let them be. As my Zen friends say, “look at your thoughts like a cloud floating on by.” Then, sit some more.
That is it. Meditation is JUST THAT Simple! Just be. Sit. Be quiet. And let the rest of it just happen. No attachment. No judgment. No “right” or “wrong.” Let the Western model of work, goals, right, wrong, agendas, etc. go….and just be. And somewhere in the being…you just might find PEACE. And if you don’t, that is ok too….at least you showed up for practice!
Authentic Freedom Ministries