Self-Hospitality Pt. 7: Meditation is Not a Performance, It’s a Medicine

How was your meditation today? Let me guess, entirely different than it was the day before. Or earlier this morning. And if I were to ask you how your meditation was going during the meditation itself (which I would never do because it’s a highly internal practice that gets totally disrupted by having to actually comment on it and use interpretive thinking while doing it), you would probably find it to be a completely different  experience moment-to-moment.

Well, we’ve spoken about the importance of a process-oriented mindset in meditation so I’m sure you’re absolutely battle-ready for this reality. But let’s understand things further here:

  1. Every meditation is a product of your present-moment state.
  2. Every meditation is exactly what it needs to be to bring into a greater state of balance and cohesion.
  3. Meditations are less comfortable not because you’re not in the right state of mind to “meditate properly” (i.e. you’re stressed, you’re underslept, you’re over-caffeinated, you’re this-or-that non-optimal state), but because something within you needs to be unwound so that your mind and body functions more optimally.
  4. If on some days you’re not feeling 100% (when are we ever 100%, anyway? After about a decade of meditation and cultivating a well-being-oriented lifestyle, I’m never 100%), then this does not compromise your ability to meditate properly. 
  5. Meditation is not a performance, it’s a medicine. If you’re not feeling great, then it’s the worst time to skip doing it. The worse you feel, the more meditation will give you.

We have these minds that seek perfection with such fervor that it even makes it across the threshold into our meditation practice. We’re worried about our performance doing something that literally no one could witness if they wanted to (except for maybe Jean Grey, Professor X and other Marvel characters that have mind-reading superpowers – however I have never seen an episode of X-Men where they were capable of detecting a meditative state so even they are limited in that regard). If a meditation doesn’t feel great, who are you worried about disappointing? The Gods of Meditation? 

It’s yourself, right? Some of us are so worried about performing badly for the audience of their own critical self-defeating minds that they put off doing it for when they’re feeling limber enough. Honestly, meditation is a performance as much as getting a colonic is a performance. Sit there, let the cleaning out happen however it needs to. And that’s about it.

But our ego will fight us on this. The ego will convince us that things need to look good and fit a certain criteria. No matter how much I insist that it doesn’t matter how clunky a meditation feels, it still accomplishes exactly what it needed to, the ego will sneak in with, “Yeah, but if you meditated and felt deep inner silence for 20 straight minutes, that would still mean you’re doing it better. Or at least be a sign that you’re in some higher state of being.”  

Even if we were in some higher state of being (whatever the heck that means), we would still be living in a world that strains our nervous systems. We would still require rest and an untangling of whatever the challenges of the day brings. We cannot expect a wholly silent experience when we shake off of all the dust of daily experience. But what we can look for is great fluidity, ease and calm throughout our daily experiences. And we can thank our turbulent meditations for that. We can thank the mere 20 minutes of heavy lifting that our meditations did for us to allow the other 23 hours of a day (well at least the hours that we’re awake) can look at least a little more like the life we want to live. 

Apply The Principles

Today, when a meditation isn’t going “your way”, thank it for all the work it’s doing. Look at the wild display of thoughts pass you by, and say “I appreciate all the crap that’s leaving my nervous system right now.” When meditation is finished and the storm has passed, think about how you want to spend this new clarity and energy you’ve tapped into.

Learn The Essentials

The purpose of this series is to give you everything you need to get the most out of meditation, self-care and this fresh new life we get to live with such powerful tools at our disposal. The weekly tools and principles I share will help you become more skilled and confident at meditating and just generally living with this thing called a mind.

Whether or not you’ve already learned meditation (with me or elsewhere), refer to this guide to either get you started or refresh you on the essentials.

I bet, even if you’ve been meditating for awhile, this series will reveal aspects of it that will make you say, “Wow, how come I didn’t know this?” You did. And you do. You just needed reminding. Meditation is a very radical way of being in ourselves…and yet it’s the most familiar place we know.