When has our meditation gone wrong? Here are 10 “Red Flags” that might mean it’s time to look more deeply into your personal practice of mindfulness:
1. Sitting on your meditation cushion, you give yourself only one option: feeling good. As for the other stuff—more or less your life—you take the attitude that it’s somehow all behind you.
2. While you might look good in your meditation session, the number of times your mind meets the now corresponds with the number of times your smart phone vibrates.
3. Your meditation is anxious. You are rushing to slow down. After all, it’s about time you were a better person.
4. Having taken a superficial look, you decide that you are fine just as you were. As a result, you meditate like a zombie chillaxing.
5. You see your discipline as a solitary endeavor. As for joining in group meditation, you’d rather visit a bus station after midnight.
6. In group practice at the meditation center, you’re a stickler for decorum, nickname: “Miss Manners.” At home, your partner is troubled by your indecorous posture adjustments. She knows you by another nickname: “Scratch n’ Sniff.”
7. Cultivating non-verbal insight, you rely on “intuition” to guide the length of your meditation sessions. They seem to be getting shorter and shorter.
8. Having read that mindfulness can improve productivity, you use a mindfulness app to micro-manage your progress on the meditation cushion. At work, your colleagues are even more worried. Before your nickname was iZombie. Now they’re calling you iRobot. (Credit for the analogy goes to the author and teacher Ethan Nichtern.)
9. A mindfulness session MUST include ginger tea, your red sweatpants, and the mala blessed by a Lama whose name you can’t remember. If you miss any of these, you are lost.
10. The less you actually meditate, the more you are moved to share your alleged insights about meditation, especially in a blog post.
Meditation Gone Wrong—What about Being Human?
Dear fellow practitioner, when meditation is our own private affair, we overlook interdependence and lose touch with the source of our inspiration. When our practice is only social, we have trouble resting with aloneness, the source of our insight.
If we elevate our discipline of meditation to something special and separate, we disconnect from the ordinary magic of life, making meditation harder than it is. What if to meditate was to be human? What if practice was less about adopting a lifestyle, and more about showing up for life?
Letting go of the pretense that limits meditation to “self-help,” our practice becomes a journey of discovery, or to put it more bluntly—unmasking. Letting ourselves be—even for a moment—is the practice of meditation. It happens now. Why not consider that an invitation? What is meditation gone wrong? Well, what is meditation gone right? Or to put it another way, what does it mean to be human?