The above cartoon is from the New Yorker, and is referenced in Jon Kabat-Zinn's book, Wherever You Go, There You Are.
'People don't usually get this right away,' Kabat-Zinn writes, 'They want to meditate in order to relax, to experience a special state, to become a better person, to reduce some stress or pain, to break out of old habits and patterns, to become free or enlightened. All valid reasons to take up meditation practice, but all equally fraught with problems if you expect those things to happen just because now you are meditating. You'll get caught up in wanting to have a 'special experience' or in looking for signs of progress, and if you don't feel something pretty quickly, you may start to doubt the path you have chosen, or to wonder whether you are 'doing it right.'
This is a way of looking at meditation that I have often struggled with. When sitting, I often get thoughts to the effect of, 'Is this a waste of time? What is the purpose of this? What am I supposed to be getting from this?' It's natural to think this way, and with most human endeavors, that kind of thinking is reasonable. It's only with meditation that the point is not what you're getting out of it. The point is clear ackowledgement that what is happening is happening.
But here's something that Kabat-Zinn says that really hit home with me. I'm not sure what I should do with it:
If you do decide to start meditating, there's no need to tell other people about it, or talk about why you are doing it, or what it's doing for you. In fact, there's no better way to waste your nascent energy and enthusiasm for practice and thwart your efforts so they will be unable to gather momentum. Best to meditate without advertising it.
Everytime you get a strong impulse to talk about meditation and how wonderful it is, or how hard it is, or what it's doing for you these days, or what it's not, or you want to convince someone else how wonderful it would be for them, just look at it as more thinking and go meditate some more. The impulse will pass and everybody will be better off--especially you.
What do you make of that??