The best measure might be how are you feeling when you’re not on the meditation cushion? Do you notice a change in your physical or emotional well-being? Even a little bit?
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If you’ve been meditating for a while and absolutely nothing has changed in your day to day internal life, and I emphasize the internal here because we don’t always have the power to change our external circumstances, sometimes we have very little power to change them, but with meditation, you should notice some change in your internal life.
If you’re not noticing any change whatsoever, then there’s three possibilities.
- Maybe your meditation needs adjustment. You need to do it in a different way or maybe you need to get better instruction on how to do it or you need to try a different meditation.
- Maybe the meditation you’re doing isn’t the right meditation for you. Or maybe it’s not the right meditation for you for the circumstances you’re in right now.
- Maybe meditation is not the right thing for you. Or again, maybe it’s not the right thing for you right now.
If you’re not noticing any changes in your internal life, all of these should be considered as possibilities.
For the record. I believe everyone can use some meditation in their life. Just like everyone can use some physical exercise and activity in their life. And just like everyone can use some artistic expression in their life. All these things, even a tiny amount, make life more enjoyable. Make life more bearable, make life more expansive.
Most likely after a few weeks of dedicated meditation, you will begin to notice some changes in your day to day life.
How is Meditation Changing Your Life?
It’s like learning a musical instrument. After a few weeks, you should start to hear a discernible melody when you’re playing. You might even find yourself humming the melody when you’re not practicing the instrument.
So it is with meditation.
You know you’re meditating when you start to feel its affects away from the meditation cushion.
You start to feel a little better, a little lighter. You might be able to handle disagreements better. You might be able to focus a little better. You might be able to be a little more clear in your intentions in your actions. Any one of these is an indication that meditation is having an effect on you and in your life.
Let’s say you’re meditating and you’re benefiting from it.
How Do I Know If I’m Meditating While Meditating?
But how about when you’re on the meditation cushion? How do you know if you’re really meditating when you’re um…actually supposed to be meditating?
The obvious thing to look at is what’s happening with your thoughts. Are you caught up in them and carried away without realizing it? Or are there times when you pull back and realize you’ve travelled down a stream of consciousness to a faraway place and you don’t know how you arrived here. How did I start thinking about this in midst of my meditation? How in the world did I get from my original thought to where I am now? Being carried away in thought a common experience during meditation and it’s not to be worried about.
If there are times during your meditation you’re able to have, the thought How did I get here or you notice you somehow ended up somewhere you don’t recognize or you’re able to have the thought Hmm. That’s interesting. Why am I thinking this right now. Then you’re fine.
The fact that you’re reflecting on your thinking means you’re meditating.
Remember the motto here with Immersion Meditation is if you’re reflecting on your breath, your body or your mind, then you’re meditating.
It really can be that simple to start.
For example, if you’re doing a body relaxation meditation and you’re able to focus on the body, for even a little bit of time during which you’re not flooded with waves of extraneous thoughts, then you’re fine.
You’re meditating. Keep at it.
The time you’re absorbed in the meditation will slowly increase. And the time you’re lost in distracting thoughts will slowly decrease.
Another point to consider is that I wouldn’t worry too much about whether you’re meditating or not, or how you can know if you’re meditating or not. The question itself is a way our minds make us doubt what we’re doing.
I would instead put my energy into just continuing to meditate. Just motivating myself to keep at it with commitment and enthusiasm. To keep noticing the small ways in which things improve in your day to day life away from the cushion and all the ways you get absorbed in your meditation while on the cushion.