Listening to the inner critic is not the most helpful way to cultivate a meditation practice. I’ve grown tired of the choir’s refrains of What a bad sit … What’s the point of meditating if you don’t focus … Is that the best you can do?
But really, this is neither a contest nor are you a self-improvement project. You do your best and that’s that. Every time I sit, I do so with the intention of welcoming everything that arises, of paying attention to my breath, and of returning to that awareness whenever I notice the mind wandering. Sometimes I stay present for seconds, occasionally for a minute or longer. Some days I don’t settle down at all, or get drowsy, or daydream all over the place. At other times I find myself sinking deep into the body, leaving monkey-mind behind, and breathing into the quietest place imaginable. And the next time I fall asleep. I never know. Is it just me?
None of these states are good or bad, right or wrong: they are what they are. What matters, I think, is intention and generosity. The intention to return to the cushion or chair again and again, to do so regularly (once a day for at least 10-15 minutes), and to make an effort to awaken from fantasies and fabrications. Generosity means being grateful for each effort and to trust that something good may arise for the benefit of ourselves and others.
image: source unknown