You might be attracted to meditation’s exotic trappings; as some people take up meditation because they seek certain extraordinary experiences or altered states of consciousness. Many meditators have adopted the practice in quest of unity with the divine, or to gain mystical knowledge of the world, and again such motivations, they are fine to start.
But for mindfulness meditation, they to will need to be given up eventually. Mindfulness is not about having unusual or transcendent experiences. Strange, fascinating, and mysterious experiences may occur while you are meditating.
You may indeed have a moment that you consider aesthetic union with God, you may feel yourself at one with the universe or in the presence of a holy, you may have an out-of-body experience as you find your soul hovering over your meditating body looking down at yourself.
With meditation, it is possible to have any kind of experience imaginable. But particular kinds of experiences are not the goal of meditating. We are not looking to have our usual experiences in mindfulness meditation.
Although such experiences may and indeed do happen. Rather we all are seeking to develop an easy and quick way to relate to all of our experiences regardless of their quality or content.
Let me repeat that:
“Mindfulness meditation practice is not about having a particular kind of experience; it is about how we relate to all of our experiences.”
Those experiences may be profoundly extraordinary, or they may be profoundly routine. From a mindfulness perspective, it does not matter one bit. You can gain as much experience of boredom as you can from the experience of ecstasy.
Meditation Is Not Quick and Easy
Today, especially many people become interested in meditation because there are attracted to the possibility of reducing the stress in their lives and becoming more relaxed people.
Like beginning meditation practice to serve one’s ego needs. Starting a practice to relax and become calmer is perfectly fine, and as we discussed in our previous article, relaxation and stress reduction is documented benefit of mindfulness practice.
But again, that expectation may have to be relinquished and, in this case, sooner is probably better than later. Although greater serenity is indeed one of the results of mindfulness meditation.
Tranquility is often not realized early in the practice, consequently, many people have disappointing experiences with their first encounter with meditation. People are disappointed because they approach the practice with two particular expectations:
- People think meditation is easy, and
- They expect it to become blissful rather quickly.
So that we may approach the practice with a proper frame of mind. Let me say it again, for the majority of meditation Practitioners: Meditation is not easy, and its benefits are not quickly realized.
I can understand why many people show up to learn meditation thinking that it will be a swift solution to their problems, we live in an impatient culture that has become quick to expect rapid fixes.
Our lack of patience with courses is the reason for so much stress in our lives which intern is one of the reasons people seek to practice meditation.
It behooves us therefore to be aware that we may be harboring this expectation since it may ultimately sabotage our efforts.
Mindfulness meditation can teach us to be more patient, but we have to be PATIENT TO LEARN THAT LESSON.
I am perplexed however as to why some people think that mindfulness practice will be easy. Perhaps it has something to do with the popular images of meditators that are found on the covers, in the videos of yoga, and in spirituality magazines.
Whatever the source of this idea, we might be in for disappointment if we expect meditation to be easy. Especially if tries to make it a daily discipline.
Particularly in the beginning stages, meditating can be very difficult. Most of us are not accustomed to stilling still for very long. Your body may begin to ace and itch in places you didn’t know existed.
You may get bored and think of hundred other things you would rather be doing. There are times when you are meditating when washing the dishes may seem like the most important thing in the world for you to do.
But perhaps the hardest part of the meditation is FACING YOUR OWN MIND. Being alone with your thoughts can be terrifying which s why many people avoid it at all costs.
Stored in that awesome brain are many dreadful things as you will know: A lifetime of regrets and sorrows, memories of unpleasant experiences and unfulfilled hopes, unresolved anger and frustration. Feelings of self-loathing and self-doubt, etc.
It’s hard to imagine that those cheery magazines meditators are taking a good hard look at these demons.
“Meditation puts us face to face with our inner demons.”
Meditation Is Not an Escape from Reality
When one considers that mindfulness meditation invites such themes to appear it’s difficult to understand why some consider the practice to be an escape from reality, another common misconception.
Perhaps that idea drives by the belief that meditation is a way to empty your mind of its content or perhaps the notion is related to the fact that in the 1960s and 70s many of the first westerners to experiment with meditation also like to experiment with hallucinating drugs.
In any event, it is inaccurate to suggest that mindfulness meditation is somehow an escape from reality. Given its bold intention to attend unflinchingly to all of our experiences without judgment. I think it’s more precise to call mindfulness meditation: AN ESCAPE INTO REALITY.
From the perspective of mindfulness, our lives as we ordinarily live them seem profoundly out of touch with what is real. Few people appear to live in a cord with what seem to be some sobering truths that death will take over us all, that the world is in constant change, that suffering is pervasive.
Racing about in hot pursuit of trivial successes, possessions, and pleasures. Working and amusing ourselves to death, filling our minds with useless junk that’s what seems to me TO BE AN ESCAPE FROM REALITY.