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“Successful” Meditation – Nerdful Mind #96

November 14, 2021 by Simon Mannes

How do you measure the success of meditation?

Is a mindfulness meditation successful if your thoughts didn't wander for the entire time?

Is a Metta (loving-kindness) meditation successful if you're lying on the floor, crying?

Both examples are “successful”, but they're definitely not what's required in meditation.

You don't need to achieve anything with your meditation.

The goal of mindfulness meditation is not being able to hold your concentration for hours on end. The goal is to notice when your thoughts wander, and then gently bring your attention back to your object of focus. So it's not about keeping focus, but about noticing when you're distracted, letting go, and coming back.

I believe there is no such thing as an “unsuccessful” meditation:

  • If you are getting angry because your thoughts wonder and you can't concentrate, you were already successful. You noticed your thoughts wander, otherwise you couldn't be angry.
  • But even if you just sat there, with only the teacher's voice or your kitchen timer bringing you back into reality, you at least sat down with the intention to meditate and that in itself is a big success.

So whichever way you're meditating, and however you feel about your meditation session afterwards, it's all right 🤗

“Meditation is a process of lightening up, of trusting the basic goodness of what we have and who we are, and of realizing that any wisdom that exists, exists in what we already have. We can lead our life so as to become more awake to who we are and what we’re doing rather than trying to improve or change or get rid of who we are or what we’re doing. The key is to wake up, to become more alert, more inquisitive and curious about ourselves.” — Pema Chödrön

Reading Recommendations

13 Overrated Virtues

“Righteousness. We all want to be ‘right.’ But if you constantly assert your correctness, it comes off as self-righteous or gloating, and that’s never healthy for a relationship. When in doubt, ‘I don’t know’ are the three most freeing words we can utter.”

People Will Pay Money To Avoid Having To Exert Self-Control

“A new study, published in PNAS, looks to quantify the cost of self-control. Candace M. Raio and Paul W. Glimcher from the New York University School of Medicine find that we’re willing to pay a monetary price to avoid having to exert self-control — and we’ll pay more if the temptation is particularly strong.”

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Tech Debt

“Despite its bad rap, tech debt can actually be a good thing - when it's managed well. Here's how to use tech debt to your advantage.”

I don't 100% agree with this article, but they share some interesting perspectives and made me think about topics in a new way.

It would be pretty boring to only consume content we fully agree with. 😉

Weekly Mindfulness Practice

I have a simple, 3-minute breathing exercise for you:

The first minute, answer the question “how am I doing right now?” Focus on your feelings, thoughts and sensations and name them.

The second minute, keep awareness of your breath.

The third minute, expand your attention outwards from the breath. How does your breath affect the rest of your body?

At the end, smile and thank yourself for taking the time to do this exercise.

End Note

If you enjoy this newsletter, please share it with someone you know. Just forward them this email.

Have a great week

Simon

PS: What do you think about this? Please hit reply and let me know. I’m curious!

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