Are You Sure You’re Meditating?

I’m sorry to tell you this, but sitting and watching a timer is not the same thing as meditation.

That is simply sitting and watching a timer while trying to meditate.

However, if, during that time, you can relax your focus from the timer, and release the ‘gaining idea’ of it, then, even if it’s just for one brief second, you are meditating.

What is a ‘gaining idea’?

According to Shunryu Suzuki, author of “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind“, it’s anything which you stand to gain something from, personally.

In this example: the satisfaction of completing a specific duration of sitting still, whether you want to tell others about it, or even just tell yourself.

It’s a little bit of a paradox. I like to set a timer during my sits for several reasons:

  • I may need to stop at a certain time;
  • I usually feel the most benefit around 20 minutes;
  • Admittedly, it does feed my ego to say that ‘I meditate for about 20 minutes every day’.

If I talk about my own practice in order to help you get on the path, isn’t that good? Isn’t that ‘gainless,’ and without attachment?

At the end of the day, I think it’s about being honest and practical.

Whenever it’s authentic, you know it.

When you’re sitting just to sit, and not to feed your ego, then you’re sitting just to sit.

When you’re talking about it to be helpful, then, it’s helpful.

And, whenever you mix in your own desire to gain something, then you are also doing that too.

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