‘As we see it, the most compelling impacts of meditation are not better health or sharper business performance but, rather, a further reach toward our better nature.’
Daniel Goleman and Richard J. Davidson
We all come to meditation practice for different reasons – perhaps to manage our stress better, or to improve our health, feel more present in life, increase our focus at work… And as soon as we start to meditate, even if it is only for a few minutes a day, we may notice some small improvements in our lives, which can be encouraging. Yet sometimes, to bring too much of an outcome-focused mind to meditation can be counter-productive – we may hit a plateau or even feel we’re going downhill with our meditation. For example, it’s quite common that after the initial positive feeling states, over time we become more aware of our anxieties and tensions, and the meditation may lose its ‘feel good’ appeal, and somehow we no longer manage to find the time for it in our day.
What if, instead, meditation was just something we did every day, regardless of whether it’s ticking any boxes for us right now? An opportunity to step out of our constant striving for improvement, and, for a brief period of time, to simply be? Over many years of this we may find we’re a little bit gentler in how we engage with life, our bodies and faces may be softer, and we’re less driven to constantly prove ourselves. In long term meditation, there can be a slow smoothing away of some of our harder edges, like a pebble which has been in a creek for a long time. There’s perhaps less reliance on external stimulation and seeking the approval of others, and a deeper contentment with the small moments which make our lives rich and meaningful.
Long-term meditation can be a ‘further reach into our better natures’, and there are many traditions which offer support and training in long term meditation. If we explore the opportunities these traditions offer, we may be fortunate enough to find one which aligns with our values, and which can support and sustain our practice over many years.
This week, spend some time journaling or meditating with the question ‘what does meditation mean to me?’ Be curious about what arises, and how this might influence your future practice.