Relaxation is not the goal in meditation
Most people begin a meditation practice having a set goal that they want to accomplish. It is common for people to get interested in starting to meditate because they feel the need to reduce stress and want more peace of mind. They want to learn to relax because they struggle to find calmness in their life.
Maybe you can identify with this. Perhaps you are starting or even practicing meditation because you want more relaxation in your life.
I want to relax now!
When I began to meditate, I had this craving myself. I was feeling stressed and lacking focus on my life. I wanted to let go of stress and feel calmer and centered. I began meditating, expecting to find relaxation.
Soon I realized that relaxation was not present all the time. I even began to notice that the practice was sometimes not relaxing at all. My mind was wandering most of the time. Realizing that my attention was traveling to worries and planning frequently was discouraging.
My wandering mind
Noticing all this mind-wandering didn’t meet my expectations of relaxation. Eventually, my perceptions began to change the more I sat to practice. The more consistent I stayed with my meditation, the less I got bothered about the mind wandering.
Some days I felt more distracted and less focused than others. With my daily practice, I began to understand that having a hectic day, made my distractions more frequent in my meditation. There was more internal distraction, the busier my plans for the day were.
Let it go
Eventually, I was able to find relaxation with my wandering mind. I was able to let go of my distractions, worries, and plans when they arise and come back to my breath.
Some days I was able to let go quicker than others, but it didn’t matter. Once I was able to be ok with whatever my mind was trying to distract me with, I began to practice with more ease.
Finally, I concluded that my meditation practice was not about finding relaxation. It was about learning to let go of my distractions and figuring out that I can always find my center. It was about me understanding my mind and accepting the mind wandering.
No more goals
Relaxation is not my goal anymore. I don’t set goals of expecting things to happen in my practice. The only thing I do is to sit in my meditation and practice letting go.
Letting go of expectations, letting go of distractions, letting go of plans, and letting go of worries. I repeat this multiple times in each practice. Sometimes it feels like the only thing I’m doing is letting go over and over again. And that is ok. That is what mindfulness meditation is all about.
Hello mind, how are you?
Getting to know my mind is what matters the most in meditation. The intention is not to chase stress, worries, and plans away. In meditation, we take time to acknowledge their presence and carry on.
When you sit to meditate, become the witness of your mind. Observe your thoughts, sensations, and feelings. As they come up, notice them and let them go. They will come over and over again. You stay equanimous, and you keep letting them go over and over again.
“A dispersed mind is also a part of the mind. Just as waves rippling in water are also part of the water.”
Thich That Hanh
How easy or difficult is it for you to accept your wandering mind?