Practicing, Not Perfecting Meditation

by Anne-Marie Botek

We live in an extremely goal-driven society. Regardless of the category - personal,

professional, "nancial, etc. - the goal-settng process follows a familiar pattern: we

define the goal, we outline the steps that will lead us to the goal, and we develop

a timeline within which we aim to achieve the goal. We instill in our young people

the value of setting reachable, yet challenging goals. For most aspects of human

life, goals are useful and necessary tools for fostering growth and development.

However, when it comes to meditation, goals can obscure the true meaning and

purpose of the practice.

Consider this quote from Pema Chödrön: “In practicing meditation, we’re not

trying to live up to some kind of ideal – quite the opposite. We’re just being with

our experience, whatever it is.”

As householder yogis, our lives are in a constant state of flux, which makes the

aim of meditationon “mastery” difficult, if not impossible, for us to achieve. Every

time we sit down on a cushion or kneel on a meditation bench, each of us brings a

new set of triumphs, defeats, joys and pains to that moment; thus, “being with

our experience,” as Chödrön puts it, is inevitably variable. Every time we

meditate, our journey to experience the essential nature of all things unfolds in a

new way. It is because of this reality that the highest goal for our meditation

practice should be just that - to practice, consistently, knowing that perfection will

be forever out of reach, and not allowing that to diminish our efforts.

Meditation is about cultivating non-judgmental awareness of the present

moment and seeking the stillness that exists within us at all times, regardless of

the turbulent fluctuations of the outer world. Its very nature denies any attempt

to define “mastery,” and that is what each of us must acknowledge in order to

deepen our relationship with our meditaon practice and with our inner selves.

Samira Shuruk