A great meditation teacher not only teaches us how to meditate, but also how to think about our meditation so that we avoid frustration, disillusionment, and self-deprecation.
Yet after weeks of practicing in our own life, our positive attitudes can begin to fade into the background. We simply forget.
And as these positive attitudes fade, they get replaced by their negative counterparts.
The good news is that by becoming aware of negative attitudes, we can reverse them back to what we had originally learned in the context of a course: patience, awareness, innocence, dispassion, and compassion.
1. "WHY ISN'T IT WORKING YET?"
Meditation doesn't necessarily give you clear or positive feedback. Sometimes it will feel good, and sometimes it won't. Results may come after weeks of consistent practice. If you're impatient, you may give up too soon and never really know the benefits of the practice.
2. "THIS TIME, MY MEDITATION WILL..."
Expectations are inevitable. Notice before you sit to meditate, are you expecting to have a quiet mind? Did you have a great meditation yesterday and therefore are expecting to have a great meditation today?
Such expectations will cause you to strive, and striving is counterproductive to your meditation.
Because expectations are inevitable, the best is to become aware of them! Your awareness will reduce their power over you.
3. "I KNOW."
Related to #2, are you able to approach your meditation with a beginner's mind or with a kind of innocence?
A non-innocent attitude is "I know this meditation is going to be difficult because I had a crappy day. I just know it." The danger in negative predictions is that you might create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
An innocent attitude is "I don't know what will happen, let's see what happens today."
4. "NO THOUGHTS ARE BETTER THAN THOUGHTS"
Sometimes you will have a clear and spacious mind. Sometimes you will have many thoughts. Can you remain dispassionate about it? We tend to reward a clear mind and punish thoughts.
If you see you get caught up in this cycle, it will be harder for you to continue to meditate because you will get frustrated.
5. "ARGH, I ALWAYS..."
When you have thousands of thoughts, can you be compassionate with your mind? An un-compassionate attitude is "Argh. Why do you have so many thoughts? You always have so many thoughts!"
Similarly, there will be some days or weeks where you skip your meditation. Can you be compassionate with yourself enough to start again?
"Ok yesterday, I didn't meditate, that's alright honey. Today is a new day. Let's go." That's a compassionate attitude. You are not beating yourself up about it and you are giving yourself a chance to start fresh.
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