Saturday, December 16, 2006

"Good" and "bad" meditations

For years I have pleaded with meditation students not to judge their meditations. The only thing to be concerned about is whether or not we are bringing the mind back to the support or object. Here's a passage from a talk by Achan Sobin Namto that makes this point:
Some meditators make the mistake of feeling happy when a period of sitting is nice and quiet and they don't have wandering mind. They think, 'Wow, now I'm a good, successful meditator. I don't mind that I came here. I'm getting a lot of benefit." But the next sitting isn't the same. Maybe their minds wander a lot and they think, "Oh, this is terrible. Maybe meditation cannot help me." They are disappointed and sad. Maybe they lose confidence and energy. That's wrong view. They don't understand that everything is impermanent. Even if the sitting is good this time, it has to end; and when good ends, bad occurs. The end of good is bad. When the next sitting is bad, why worry? Bad has to have an end. Maybe the next sitting will be good. Even if it isn't, that's ok. It cannot be bad the whole day, right? You have to have good sometimes, have to have quiet or calmness sometimes. But when the mind is calm or peaceful, don't attach, because it cannot last too long, cannot last all day. Sometimes practice will be bad. So do not worry about good or bad.
I think a lot of meditators give up because they think they have "bad" meditations. Please don't! You'll be depriving yourself of wonderful benefits if you do. Have compassion on yourself if your mind wanders and just bring it back very gently. And most of all, remember impermanence.

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