Why are we doing this, anyway?
Although a big part of meditation is simply learning to be with what is happening, it is really about how we relate to what is happening. And this is one reason why it is hard to sustain a practice at first. We are so conditioned to think in terms goals and accomplishments, it feels like we’d have more motivation if we could find some easily tracked outcome to tell us we’re making ‘progress.’ Like getting a gold star if we manage to count to 10 before the mind wanders off. But the real idea is to learn how to let go more and more kindly when we do get lost in thought; to have more self-compassion as we start over and over again. Even though it is important to be able to clearly see the truth of what is happening, it is even more important to see how we relate to what is happening. Because that is where we create our own growth and freedom. It is pretty much guaranteed that you will have unpleasant experiences, or wildly unhelpful thoughts, despite all the time you meditate. The aspiration is to build up our ability to be with those things—starting with the simplest irritations while meditating--so that ultimately we can be with both the good and bad in life in a way that we choose, rather than being stuck in old habits of mind that no longer serve us well. Seriously, the first time you find yourself taking a deep breath rather than blowing your top in a difficult situation, you'll find a lot more motivation to keep going than a mere gold star!