Failure Can Be Part of Meditation!
Do you ever sit down to meditate and find that you’ve failed – again!! – at what you had intended on doing? Do you ever feel like a failure when you meditate? Does fear of failing ever prevent you from even starting to meditate? Or, have you already learned to meditate but feel like a failure in keeping up with your practice? If you answered yes to any of these questions…join the club!
What Is Meditation?
For many of us, when we begin to meditate (or even if we’ve meditated for a while), we can experience a certain amount of “failure” while trying to meditate. Even if we’ve been successful in the past, our efforts may be met with what we believe to be failure. But, what if failure weren’t an option? What if there was no such thing as “failing” at meditation? What if meditation included failing to meditate?
Many people describe meditation as a state of “non-distraction,” where we’re able to simply rest in our natural state. I’m not sure about you, but I know that for me, this “natural state” is not where I always find myself. In my day to day life, I can find my mind all over the place, distracted by various things, and far from a state of non-distraction. How about you? AND, I also find that meditation is about learning that even in those times, when I might consider myself to be failing at being present, or if I’m formally practicing meditation and I feel like I’ve failed, in those times, I can still learn how to meditate.
Meditation Is About Learning
For me and for you too, meditation can be a learning process where everything that you try, everything that you do, can be an opportunity to learn how distracted you are or if you’re distracted. And, if you think about it that way, then you can learn to meditate in your daily activities and your “failing” to meditate at those times can be – simply – an invitation back into your meditation practice. In this way, everything can be meditation, and every failure can be a success!
Meditation is About Being With Whatever Arises…And That Includes Failure!
When you meditate, what’s vital is to remember that non-distraction includes not being distracted by your comments on your distraction. What? That means that when you find yourself distracted, instead of running off on a tirade about yourself, “I’m such a shitty meditator!…,” you simply return to your present, moment-to-moment awareness without commenting on your failure to meditate!! (Words or sentences in orange are actually links to other articles and posts, check em out!)
Think about it, if meditation is about not being distracted by what arises in your mind, doesn’t that also include not being distracted by your feelings of frustration or discouragement about your meditation? Wouldn’t that also include your feelings and thoughts about failing at meditating?
Meditation Works…Even When It’s Not Working
As you progress in your meditation practice, you may discover that the effort involved in learning to meditate, even if it doesn’t feel like it’s paying off, is actually working. Meditation works even when it’s not working!
What is actually “not working” isn’t your meditation, it’s your thoughts about what meditation should be! Okay, think about this slowly…if you weren’t distracted in your meditation about whether your meditation was working or not, would you still be distracted? If you were to just watch your thoughts about your meditation, just like you’d watch all of your other thoughts, without grasping onto them, would you be distracted? No? If you didn’t judge yourself over whether your meditation was a “good” meditation or a “bad” one, and just sat with your mind, would you be distracted? No.
Failure (In Meditation) Is Not An Option!
So, you can’t fail in learning to meditate. Really, it’s all a process of learning to work with your mind. Even the distractions can be the focus of your meditation. Use your distractions while meditating as invitations to return to your practice. Seriously? Yes. Think about this, if every time that you find that you’ve become distracted while meditating, you simply and gently return to the focus of your meditation, then how can you fail? When you get swept away, come back again.
How Do You Meditate?
I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that those who read this blog know how to meditate. If you’re already familiar with how to meditate, then I hope that what I have to offer here is of some benefit to you in your practice.
If you haven’t meditated before, or are new to the practice, I suggest that you download the free ebooks that are available on this site and use them as tools to get started in your practice. Additionally, go to the tab for “Meditation” above (or click on this link) to read posts on meditation. If you’re a healthcare practitioner, I would (humbly) suggest that you consider purchasing a copy of the book, Minding the Bedside: Nursing from the Heart of the Awakened Mind, as a resource for learning to meditate as well as a lot of other great information.
As always, please feel free to drop me a note with any specific practice-related questions or if you need clarification on any of the information that I’ve provided in this post or anywhere else on this site.
This site has tons of tools for learning how to meditate and be compassionate.
I encourage you to look through the HUNDREDS of articles that I’ve written and especially check out my weekly meditation tips and other useful meditation materials provided for your health and well being. Please let me know if you’d like to discuss anything with me, have any questions or need clarification regarding anything that I’ve written about.
As always, please feel free to share your comments on meditation and contact me if you’d like to see additional content or other topics for discussion on this site.