Let go of all your ideas about how to meditate!

February 9, 2007

When you listen to our Meditation Oasis podcasts, it’s best to leave all your ideas about how to meditate behind. Forget about what you think meditation is or how you think it should be done. Most definitely let go of any expectations of what the experience should be like. Let it all go and listen with a “beginner’s mind” and open heart!

One goal of my guided meditations is to create a space where you can be effortless, allowing the natural flow of life and living. Coming to the meditation with the idea that you have to breath in some special way, that you should not be having thoughts or even that you should feel a certain way during meditation can make meditation into a struggle.

I recently received an email from someone who said she was having a “hard time breathing” during the meditations. It soon became clear that she was trying to breath deeply and do it “correctly”. I responded that she didn’t need to breath in any particular way, but simply to allow the breath to go on its own naturally.

In a sense, my guided meditations are about being in the “allow mode”, not resisting what arises. Thoughts, emotions, sensations in the body come and go. Noise happens around us. All of this is part of the natural flow of the energy of life. The instructions are just gentle suggestions which are not meant to be followed in a rigid way. If the attention wanders, that’s fine. Just bring it easily back to the meditation.

There is no “correct” experience. There are no mistakes in these meditations. If there is a sense of strain or struggle, it’s just a sign of effort and the formula is to let it go. Take it easy, take it as it comes!


6 Responses to “Let go of all your ideas about how to meditate!”

  1. Suresh Gundappa on February 9th, 2007 6:32 pm

    Brilliant. the first biggest obstacle to meditation is ideas about meditation. Your headline has to be first and foremost lesson for people on path.

    Your blog is really beautiful.

  2. Mary on February 10th, 2007 11:29 am

    Thank you, Suresh.

    What has been striking me lately is that this is also true of how we approach life — our biggest problem is our ideas about it!

  3. Paul Martin on February 14th, 2007 7:09 am

    It can be somewhat different for different people…

    For myself I initially had to put a lot of effort into directing my attention back to the meditation again and again. I needed to be pretty forceful about it because if I gave my mind greater permission to wander, that’s what it was going to do!

    It was only with time that I was able to take the kinder, gentler approach, so to speak.

    I wish religion, especially in the west, put more emphasis on its own traditions of meditation (“contemplative prayer”). The world would be a saner place.

  4. Mary on February 14th, 2007 12:54 pm

    Thank you for visiting and sharing your experience and perspective, Paul!

    I agree, the path with meditation can be different for different people, and my sense is that the path we each take is perfect for us.

    There are so many different kinds of meditation with different goals. I don’t know what type of meditation you’ve been doing. From your comment, sounds like it has been a contemplative practice.

    My path has been different. The first meditation practice I learned was one that emphasized effortlessness. I enjoyed that right away and continued to meditate in that style. Naturally my approach when I lead guided meditations reflects that. It suits some people really well, and others gravitate towards a different style.

    Vive la difference!

  5. Janis on February 14th, 2007 9:38 pm

    Nicely put! I find myself drifting, but tug myself back and like that you say it in such a way that it is effortless.

    I really have enjoyed your podcasts. I absolutely love that I can find and practice different ways of focusing, meditating via podcasts, it’s exciting.

  6. Mary on February 15th, 2007 11:18 am

    Hi Janis,

    So glad you are enjoying the podcasts and are able to experience that effortlessness! Yes, there are so many different ways of focusing, and each of them has its own value.

    Thanks for adding your comment.

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