In today’s video, I talk about the secret of meditation, and discuss the misconceptions many people have about this ancient mindfulness practice.
Read or watch below to learn about the secret of meditation.
Zachary Stockill: I often speak about the incredible benefits of meditation.
Meditation, breathwork, or any kind of mindfulness are practices that help strengthen your ability to stay present and stop focusing excessively on the past or future. These mindfulness practices are especially beneficial in dealing with issues like retroactive jealousy.
For over a decade, I’ve encouraged people with retroactive jealousy to try basic meditation or a mindfulness practice.
However, many people resist the idea at first. In fact, many readers and coaching clients tell me:
“Zach, I tried meditation, but I can’t do it because I’m ‘bad’ at it.”
If that sounds familiar, and if you feel like you’re “bad” at meditation, I think you’re going to want to read the rest of this article.
So when you make the statement “I’m ‘bad’ at meditation”, I believe you’re building that statement based on two pernicious myths.
Myth number one:
If you say that you are “bad” at meditation, that means to me that you have some idea in your mind of what “good” meditation looks like.
And I think many people who think they are “bad” at meditation think that “good” meditation is being in a state of transcendent bliss and complete peace of mind.
You’re one with the Buddha and monks in the Himalayas. And you’re just kind of one with the universe—this transcendent experience of total oneness with all things. I think a lot of people who think they’re “bad” at meditation think that’s what “good” meditation looks like.
We all have moments when it’s challenging, with thoughts rushing in and feeling unsettled, and we think:
“Why the heck are we spending so much time learning this silly technique?”
Even the most experienced meditators have extremely challenging moments, and “good” meditation is not about some transcendent state of bliss.
The secret of meditation is about practice.
In my opinion, and in the opinion of many other people I respect, “good” meditation is about remaining diligent, simply making the attempt, and staying consistent with their attempts over extended periods of time.
When I was in my early 20s, I got very interested in Zen Buddhism, and I remain very interested in it.
You’ve probably heard of Buddhism. Zen is a tradition that originated in China, Japan, and parts of Korea. It’s an ancient spiritual tradition. There’s an enormous amount of wisdom in Zen Buddhism.
One example of this wisdom is the aphorism that the mark of a good meditator is someone who takes the time to plant their behind on a seat.
In other words, the mark of a good meditator is simply making the attempt and strengthening that habit, strengthening that muscle, and strengthening that discipline to keep going at it, to keep making the attempt over extended periods of time.
That is what good meditation is about.
If you have this idea that “good” meditation is being blissed out all the time, that’s completely wrong.
To go deeper into this idea, I’ve had some very challenging moments in meditation. I’ve gone on these long 10-day meditation retreats, and it’s not all bliss.
When you’re meditating for 10 days straight, you’re not talking to anyone; you don’t have your phone or the internet, and you’re really living like a monk for 10 days. It is not all fun.
In fact, you’ll have some extremely challenging moments if you do that.
There are extremely painful moments where these old demons come up sometimes, or you feel completely unmotivated and just think:
“Why the hell am I spending my vacation in this cabin in the woods?” You’ll have all kinds of demons come to the fore over those 10 days of doing this kind of retreat.
And some people might say “that doesn’t sound like the secret of meditation.” And I would argue that it actually is because, again, meditation is about building up that muscle.
If you get serious about meditation, you’re going to have some challenging moments. You’re going to have some painful moments. You’re going to have some frustrating moments.
But I still wouldn’t consider that “bad” meditation. In fact, I’d argue that that is actually the mark of the opposite.
To sum up, if you feel like you are a bad meditator, I would urge you to give it another chance and to reframe the way you see meditation.
Because again, it isn’t about trying to attain oneness with the universe all the time. And it also isn’t accurate to say that “unless I’m feeling totally blissed out and peaceful, that wasn’t a good meditation session…”
Meditation strengthens your mental muscles and, crucially, strengthens your ability to disconnect from thoughts that aren’t serving you.
And these can be good thoughts; these can be bad thoughts; it doesn’t matter.
You need to work on your ability to simply let thoughts go, to start watching your thoughts as clouds in the sky, rather than responding emotionally to them, rather than providing them with energy, rather undue significance or meaning, rather than buying into the narrative that these thoughts have.
It’s simply about strengthening your ability to disconnect from thoughts and building that routine—building that habit over time—that’s the secret of meditation.
In my book, you’re a good meditator if you simply carve out the time and stay committed to the practice rather than any particular outcome.
If you are currently struggling with retroactive jealousy, you can click here to sign up for a free four-part mini-course that will help you get started.
Or if you need more help, then you can consider signing up for one-on-one coaching with me. [Subject to availability]