I know a lot of readers here at The Daily Mind dabble at meditation. Some do it for relaxation, some for enlightenment. And when you practice meditation you expect certain results. But sometimes those results don’t occur. Sometimes, in fact, signs arise that show that your meditation is not working properly at all.
In this post I am going to show you 6 definitive signs that prove that your meditation practice is not working. If you happen to identify one or two within your own practice do not become discouraged. You should instead consider yourself extremely lucky for now you know what is holding you back.
6 definitive signs your meditation practice is not working
Meditation is a practice. It is like soccer, football, running or chess. The more time you spend doing it the better you will become. And, like soccer, football, running and chess there are signs that show whether you are succeeding or not.
If you keep missing the goal when you take a shot in soccer it means your technique is wrong. If you can’t checkmate your opponent in chess, even after years of playing it means your strategy is off. Meditation is no different. And once you recognize these signs you will be able to rectify the problem and move on.
1. You have become more opinionated
The great Buddhist master Chogyam Trungpa once stated that the first sign of a successful meditation practice is that you become less opinionated. I couldn’t agree more. Meditation should make you more gentle and spacious. It should make your mind less rigid. And when that happens your become less opinionated. You have more room to hear others opinions and you have more room to allow them to swirl around and settle. You do not react at the first sign of a challenging opinion.
If you find that you have become more opinionated it is a sign that your meditation practice is not working. Try and look in to your mind and find why that might be happening.
2. You have become less patient
As I have mentioned many times, patience is the greatest of all the virtues. It is the direct remedy to anger and as such it should increase as you begin to become more expert at meditation.
Next time someone cuts you off in traffic take a look at your mind and see if it was more patient than it might have been two years ago. Or, the next time you get woken up in the middle of the night or have to get up super early. See if you are getting more patient. If you aren’t then something is wrong.
3. You have become more dogmatic
Wikipedia defines “dogma” as Dogma “…the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization: it is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted or diverged from”. And let’s face it – all of us are dogmatic in some way. We hear a teaching we like or join a club we identify with and we automatically want to prop up its teachings.
But when you practice meditation you become less dogmatic. You start to see that all teachings have a time and a place and a meaning. Some people like Buddhism. Some people like Islam. It is not that one is more right than the other. The truth is that both have their place and work for certain people. It might be right for you but not for me. Meditation opens you up to this possibility.
4. You have become more irritable
I once used to hang out at a little Buddhist Center in Australia and got to know the people there. One day I went out for lunch with a lady whose partner was one of the more “senior” meditators at the center. She was a little upset so I asked her what was wrong and she told me how her partner had yelled at her while he was meditating the day before. “What happened?” I inquired.
“Well,” she said. “I was watering the plants outside his room and all of a sudden he screamed out ‘Would you SHUT UP I am trying to meditate!‘ and then slammed the door.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. Meditation is supposed to make you more open to situations in your life. It is not as if you are trying to make everything all perfect and lovely and quiet – you are trying to work with all situations that you encounter. If you are become more irritable then something is wrong.
5. Your desire/aggression has not decreased
When you meditate you start to work with your thoughts and emotions. You become more tuned in to the ups and downs of your mind and you learn to see through its games. This means that you should become less desire-filled and a lot less aggressive.
One sure sign that someone is not a very good meditator is when they become agitated, aggressive and angry at the smallest thing. It means they have little control over their mind and cannot separate their awareness from their emotions and thoughts. As meditators we should be able to deal with these strong emotions in a more patient way.
6. You still lack love and compassion
The final and the most important point is that meditation is supposed to make you more loving and compassionate. When you start to get in touch with your true self you automatically become more compassionate. We see this in great masters and the songs they write when they reach a new level of realization. Many of them break down in tears of sadness over the fact that they have realized their true potential while other beings still wander in suffering.
The more you meditate the closer you should come to this realization. If you are not becoming more loving and compassionate it means you are getting further and further away from enlightenment, God, or whatever it is you are seeking.
Recognizing is not faking
Now that you know some of these signs it is important that you stay honest with yourself. A lot of people would read this information and then try to mimic what they think a good meditator would do. This is not very helpful. The idea behind meditation is to work with your current situation, whatever that may be. If you are an angry person you need to deal with that, not fake being a patient person. If you are a sex-addict you need to deal with that, don’t pretend to be a monk. This is important.
If anyone knows any other signs that meditation practice is not working I would love to hear them. Please drop us a comment.
Originally posted on February 23, 2009 @ 1:28 pm