I’ve said this before on this website, for example here and here. So why again? As much as anything, I repeat myself because I need to remind myself.

There is something unintuitive about meditation. Meditation is a method for reprogramming our heart into different ways of being. We are swimming up stream, going against the flow. It’s hard work, and as such we might want to try and make things happen, force change. I certainly know that I can fall into that trap, even with a few decades of practice behind me.

With the heart, one cannot force change. I can think that I have developed more compassion, patience, overcome jealousy through my meditation practice - and then life happens. Life has a bad habit of showing me where I am truly at.

As such, my advice for meditation practice is to simply follow the instruction. What do I mean by that? Let me try and explain:

I find that there can be a tendency for me to hear meditation instruction and then go and sit, all the time trying to fit my mind into an image of what I think that I should be feeling if I have succeeded with this particular practice. But this just won’t work. First of all we are working with our image of what compassion, patience, etc looks like, and given that we are still working on developing that quality, our image of it is probably a little skewed. Second, one cannot force the mind into being a certain way. The mind can only be where it is at.

Instead, in the same way that you would follow directions to someone’s house, turning left when the instructions tell you to do so, right when you have to turn that way, not making up instructions or turning earlier because you feel as though you are behind time. In the same way that you would follow those instructions exactly to get to your destination, follow the meditation instructions exactly…and do nothing else.

Following the road directions exactly will get you to the house, whether what you encounter en route is what you expect or not, whether it takes longer than you thought or not. Similarly, following the meditation instruction will get you to that final destination, whether that be compassion, kindness, patience, etc. The route that you take to get there, might be more circuitous than you expected. More ups and downs, more sense of one step forward and two steps back. However, if you follow the instructions you will get there, even if it takes a life time. You will get there, and along the way, quite by chance, probably surprising yourself, you will notice incremental improvements.

I hope that this is clear, but if you have any questions, please hit the ”Reply by email” link below and get in touch.