Some meditation tips never get old.
Yes, some help you over a hump. And others help you take a big leap. These are important and valuable on the path of meditation.
But then, there are a few that stay relevant over the long haul. Like the tip of a diamond, they help you cut through confusion again and again.
One Meditation Mistake You Should Never Make
These are the ones you return to when nothing else will work, and when you feel like your practice just isn’t firing.
My former teacher had one of these amazing tips. It highlights one mistake you should never make in meditation. It’s so simple you probably won’t believe me at first. But here it is:
Don’t make a problem.
No matter what happens, no matter what you think is happening (or not happening) when you meditate; don’t ever make it a problem. That’s it. That’s the whole thing.
The Challenge of Not Making a Problem
Believe me, when I surrendered to this little nugget of wisdom, it helped me more than almost any other meditation guideline.
I learned the hard way, through stubborn repetition, that making a problem in meditation is what’s called a “fatal error.” It’s the easiest thing to do, and it’s the quickest way to lose the plot.
My goal is to prepare you so you aren’t too hard on yourself when you start to recognize #1 how hard it is to not make a problem and #2 how often we do it while meditating.
Let me put it another way. Don’t make a problem out of the fact that you are always making problems. I know, it seems simple, but it gets really subtle the more you apply this golden rule.
Why is this so hard?
The Mind Loves Problems
Simple. Our minds are miraculous problem-solving machines. They are wonderfully calibrated to tackle complexity, solve equations, tease out meaning, speculate on the future, and generally untie the knots of our existence.
Thank God for the gift of our creative cognition!
But meditation is all about leaving the mind behind. And for most of us, that’s hard. We are accustomed to using our minds all the time. Not only that, most of us believe that what we think is who we are. We are, in a very real sense, addicted to thought.
In the beginning, this is hard to see. But in time, meditation gives you access to a part of yourself that is always and forever beyond thought.
That part of us is already free, boundless, and always at rest. When we start to experience this unlimited part of ourselves directly through meditation, our compulsive addiction to thought becomes more obvious.
Why Having No Problem Is So Helpful
So now you might be wondering, why is it so helpful to not make a problem?
Well, meditation is all about letting go of the mind. When you start to meditate in earnest, you see that your mind is making problems all the time. Then it works on solving those problems. It doesn’t matter what the problem is, your mind is happiest when it has a knot to untie.
And guess what? In meditation, it’s very easy for that knot to be You. Our minds really love it when we are the problem. Here are some common examples I have observed. Just add “And that’s a big problem!” to the end of each one of these.
- I’m not doing it right.
- I don’t know how to meditate.
- I can’t meditate.
- I’m not having any experiences of deep peace.
- I’m lost.
- I can’t concentrate.
- I’m not in the right frame of mind to meditate.
- I feel uneasy about how that meeting went at work today.
And the list goes on. I bet you can come up with at least a few more of your own. None of these thoughts is actually a problem, nor is what each one points to. Rather, it’s our conviction that the presence of these thoughts is a problem. That’s when the train veers off the tracks.
Quite suddenly, if we listen to just one of those thoughts, we have abandoned our meditation. But not only that, we also have a big issue to sort out and get busy with. So long to your beautiful meditation practice! This is why it’s so important to practice having no problem in meditation.
Cultivating Your Inner Sniper
I hope you can start to see why I swear by this meditation shortcut. Try it for yourself. Next time you meditate, what if you refuse to pay attention to any problem or thought that passes through your mind’s eye. Not in a forceful way either. Just let it all go.
When you have committed to letting everything go, this tip becomes your best ally—a metaphysical sniper, picking off every problem-making bandit lurking in the misty paths of your mind.
You see, meditation is so painfully simple. It’s always about the calm and steady singularity on the far side of chaos. But the mind is sidelined during meditation. Without a problem to solve, it’s out of a job and often disgruntled.
Whether you like it or not, your mind tends to make a problem out of being excluded from your meditation practice. It has no off switch. If it goes quietly, be grateful, but don’t depend on it.
The beauty is this, it doesn’t matter if your mind is quiet or not, because nothing is a problem for you. When you don’t make a problem, you are free.
The Beauty of Having No Problem
The practice of having no problem is an ingenious way to bypass the relentless problem-making drive of your mind. In time, having no problem will become second nature to you. You grow accustomed to letting go of problems and you learn to resist the temptation to make a problem out of anything.
As you develop in your practice, you eventually recognize that having no problem is the same as letting everything go. And letting go of everything is the goal of meditation and it is freedom itself.
So one of the golden rules of meditation is the practice of having no problem. No matter what happens, whatever experience you have, whatever obstacle you think you are facing, just keep going and don’t make a problem out of it.
If you do this faithfully, you can’t fail. You will make enormous strides in your practice. Your conviction in the deeper truth of no problem will grow and your life will improve in ways you can’t imagine.