What’s the goal of meditation? Why should one meditate anyway?
For majority of us meditation is one of the most challenging or perhaps boring and pointless things to do. But, it has countless benefits. Countless, because meditation itself is not the goal, it helps us meet our goals by learning to come back to the main point and being more real in dealing with life.
Whether you are just curious about meditation, or very interested, or wish to improve your meditation practice; allow me to share my personal experience, as well as what I have learnt from my clients’ difficulties with meditation over the years. I am confident that it will be helpful, well at least for some of you.
Excitements and disappointments
When I first started practicing meditation many years ago, I was so chuffed that I have found something to help me ‘improve’, to feel better, to think clearer, and so on. Then I got into it and checked the websites, bought the CDs and books (yep, back then there were no YouTube or Podcasts). It didn’t take long for the inevitable disappointment and lack of motivation to kick in. I went back to my old routines, with sporadic sitting sessions here and there. After a while, problems piled up and my motivation for so called ‘self-improvement’ reignited. I looked for new meditation techniques, new teachers and so on.
You guessed it, after a quick while, this excitement episode also led to disappointment. After all, I had many legitimate reasons. Like: ‘I’m busy, I don’t have time’, ‘I’ll never learn’, ‘Others can do it, but perhaps meditation is not my cup of tea … it’s incompatible with my DNA’, ‘It’s useless, I see no benefits really’, and so on.
I see a similar pattern occurring for most people, including my clients and associates. I am sure you have your story and list of excuses too.
Coming back, that’s the point
Alright, let’s get to the bottom of it. What is the point of meditation? It is simply to keep coming back to what matters, by letting go of what doesn’t matter.
Meditation is not about attaining a goal. It’s not about self-improvement or about going forward. It’s not about going anywhere, it is simply about learning to come back. To come back to what matters right now and right here. Results; like feeling better, relaxing, being more settled, thinking clearer, etc; are side-benefits which may come in time. But if we make those the goals of meditation, it defeats the purpose. Yet again, we all do that at the beginning and that’s fine. Otherwise, if it wasn’t for the ‘self-improvement’ goal, our ego-self would never get motivated to meditate. So, don’t force yourself to have no goals, or blame yourself for having ‘self-improvement’ goals. Just honour that as the reality of your experience at the moment. Again, the point is coming back despite all these.
And, this coming back is understood at two levels:
- Coming back to the point of reference when you get distracted during meditation. And rest assured, everyone does, even the most skilled meditators get distracted. (Examples of ‘Point of reference’ include your breath, the physical sensation in your nostrils during inhale and exhale, your heart centre, your belly centre, body parts during sensing or scanning, and so on.)
- Coming back and resuming your practice, if you miss meditating few days or weeks or months …
Meditation is always a practice
There is a reason why meditation is called a ‘practice’. In fact meditation is always called a practice. One will never say that was a practice session and now this is the ‘real’ meditation session. If anything, I reckon, meditation is the practice for our everyday life. The more we have practiced meditation, the better we can deal with the ups and downs of everyday life. We will become more real, and less bound up in all the drama and distractions of our ego-self. No one ever graduates to become a ‘professional’ meditator.
Now, give it a fair go
There you have it. And there is scientific evidence too that this coming back helps build new neural pathways in the brain.
Can I now invite you to start practicing meditation with this attitude? Or to go back to your practice if you have abandoned it.
Resources and further readings:
- Head to my Mindfulness Resource page for loads of useful resources.
- If you need a helping hand to start meditation or wish to improve your practice, contact me for a Free Initial Consultation session.
- Have a look at this article, but don’t get too much caught up in the benefits, just meditate for its own sake: 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation
- This is also kind of useful “I Don’t Like Meditating. Here’s Why I Do It Anyway“