I’ve noticed something about meditation: whenever I manage to do it consistently for a few days I feel utterly transformed. My mind is free; creativity begins to flow; fear and anxiety are diminished; I feel sexy; my body and face relax so I look younger. It’s some kind of a miracle, isn’t it?
Here is another thing I’ve noticed about meditation:
I don’t do my meditation ‘perfectly’…
Because I don’t do my meditation ‘perfectly’, I am afraid that I am doing it wrong…
Because I am doing it wrong, I feel guilty…
Because I feel guilty I have another cup of coffee…
Because I’m having another cup of coffee, I’m not meditating…
Since I’m not meditating anyway, I may as well get on with some worrying.
And so it goes.
Now, I’ve done some incisive research about this mental trap and here is what I found out: most of you have noticed the same thing!
I put our dilemma to Andy Puddicombe, meditation master of the wonderful Headspace. “O wise and serene one,” I asked, “what do you say to those of us who can’t meditate because we are not perfect?”
O.W.A.S.O (Andy) replies: “Good question Jess! Well, first of all I would forget any idea of perfection – there’s no such thing. But even if you want to use that idea, then surely that’s the very reason to practise meditation. Otherwise it would be a bit like saying “I can’t play the piano so I’m not going to learn how to play the piano”!
Its a funny thing with meditation. I guess because we spend so much time with our mind we assume that we should be able to do it ‘perfectly’ straight away, but how many other skills would we apply the same rule of thumb to? Would we ever think that we could juggle first time around, drive a car, or learn a new language in the first lesson?
So, the starting place is to realise the reason for practising meditation is because our mind is in the habit of running off all over the place, depriving us of the present moment, the experience of the here and now in everyday life. But it is only a habit and by training the mind regularly, accepting that it will often wander and that this is perfectly normal, it will slowly begin to give up those old habits and spend more time right here and right now, allowing us to enjoy life and all that it has to offer.
In short, there is no such thing as perfect meditation. There is only the simple act of observing the mind. At times we will do this well, not getting sucked into the thoughts and feelings passing by. At other times we will forget we are only here to observe and we will get involved with those thoughts and feelings and become distracted. But that’s fine. In fact it’s normal. If this didn’t happen to begin with there would be a problem.
The beauty of meditation is that the moment you realise you are distracted, you are back in the moment…which is how you were able to recognise that you had just been distracted in the first place! It’s almost too simple for our complex mind to comprehend, but with practise, it happens naturally, easily and effortlessly.”
Today I am going to let go of perfection and free my mind (to the best of my ability).
If you want to learn how to meditate imperfectly, I thoroughly recommend ten minutes with Andy at www.getsomeheadspace.com.