A common misunderstanding is that meditation aims to send the mind from where it is now, to a more blissful state or place. Another misconception is that meditation is designed to block out the unpleasantness of life.
And while it is true that there are valuable and useful relaxation and visualization techniques that encourage us to imagine our favorite relaxing place, far away from troubles, these techniques don’t share the same immediate aim of mindfulness meditation.
Mindfulness and calming meditation are mutually supporting techniques that aim to help us make immediate, continuous, nonjudgemental contact with life, just as it is now. That means making contact with the unvarnished ups and downs and pains and joys of life, just as they are now. We are not looking to flee from life; we are tuning in, getting real.
Also, many people think they’re “doing it wrong” or that they’ve failed in the past because their mind often wandered off or got distracted during meditation.
Yet, the mind wanders. It’s dynamic, energetic, amazingly creative, and compelling. No one can blame you for getting carried away. When the mind wanders, nothing has gone wrong.
Here’s why. This style of meditation goes like this. We set a time for meditation, say five minutes. We set our intention to restfully focus on the breath as our point of immediate, present awareness during those five minutes. The mind wanders, we notice. Next, we see that no matter how sticky or grabby our thoughts or worries or day dreams seem, we can always gently let go of wandering thoughts without being harsh with ourselves. We can be gentle; we can always begin again.
This is what the great meditation teacher, Pema Chodron, has to say on this topic in a wonderful article at Lion’s Roar called 5 Reasons to Meditate,
The mind is very wild. The human experience is full of unpredictability and paradox, joys and sorrows, successes and failures. We can’t escape any of these experiences in the vast terrain of our existence. It is part of what makes life grand—and it is also why our minds take us on such a crazy ride. If we can train ourselves through meditation to be more open and more accepting toward the wild arc of our experience, if we can lean into the difficulties of life and the ride of our minds, we can become more settled and relaxed amid whatever life brings us.
Here’s the link to the whole article: lionsroar.com/5-reasons-to-meditate-september-2013/
Here’s another link on this topic: sweepingheartzen.org/mindfulness_meditation_mind_yoga/