Meditation experiences – should we set a goal of meditation?

Meditation experiences – should we set a goal of meditation?

So you’ve started meditating!  Or perhaps you’ve had some meditation experiences already.

So what is your goal? 

What is it you are striving for with this practice?

I personally began meditating, and practiced for quite some time, several years even, without fully understanding what my goal was.  It only makes sense really.  The practice of meditation begins to open doors to worlds and experiences that the rational mind cannot fully comprehend, let alone be able to predict or predetermine before you actually go there. 

Because the rational mind cannot really begin to predict what kind of experiences meditation can give us, the majority of us start out with somewhat vague goals.  We may meditate because we want to free ourselves of suffering, or heal ourselves, or become more “spiritual”, or seek enlightenment, perhaps to connect or commune with divinity.

Though these are all good goals that supply us with the necessary motivation to continue our practice, our journey into uncharted territory, the truth is that before we actually get there, we don’t really, truly know what it means to be enlightened, to heal, to be in communion with divinity, or to be “spiritual”. 

It’s really quite fascinating to look back on my own journey and remember the person I used to be, and the ideas and expectations I used to have of the spiritual path I was embarking upon when I first started.  There was absolutely no way, just no way at all, that I could have ever imagined that I would end up where I am now.  And again, I don’t believe that there is any real way now that I can imagine what my experience will be several years from now if I continue to practice diligently.

There’s an interesting question when you walk this path:

“How will I know when I get there?” 

How will you know when your goal has been accomplished? 

How will you know when you’ve become completely empowered, or healed, or spiritually “advanced”?  How will you know when you’ve made it from point A to point B?  

Well, this is a question that no one can really answer for you but yourself, but I would like to give you some advice, to help you progress as quickly as you can and avoid any unnecessary detours.  My advice for you is this:

The experience you have during meditation, no matter how blissful, profound, or mind-blowing, will never be your end goal.  That which you seek is not an experience in meditation. 

When I first started meditation I had a lot of ideas in my head about how it would be when I got really good at meditation.  I thought I’d see angels, or talk to spirit guides.  I imagined intense and vivid visions, and out of body experiences.  And I thought that having profound experiences like this would be the sign that I had arrived at my pinnacle of spiritual empowerment. 

The time came for me to have some pretty amazing meditation experiences, the types that you read about in books, or hear about from spiritual teachers, and yet, I learned something important. 

I was still a regular guy!  I still had stuff to deal with.  I still struggled at times with feelings like anger or loneliness.  I still had a ways to go, maybe even a couple lifetimes to go, before I could even come close to calling myself “enlightened”.

I realized that the experience during meditation is not an end goal to strive for.  It is the experience of life as a whole that is most important.  Many people can live a stressful, unhappy, negative, or even painful life outside of meditation, and still be able to relax, focus their mind, and achieve peace for these moments of sitting, but what is most important is how this practice ripples out into your day to day life, in your interaction with the world, and in your communication with the human race.

So I am not here to tell you exactly what the goal of meditation is, because mine may be different from yours.  But I would encourage you to make sure that your goal includes the context of your entire life experience, rather than just what happens while you are sitting with your eyes closed. 

Take the jewels and beautiful experiences you find during meditation and bring them with you outside of the experience to share with the rest of the world !

In Love and Service, 

-Ashton A.

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