Ask any Buddhist teacher or senior practitioner and they’ll tell you there’s no such thing as a good or bad meditation. The point of meditation is to see into the true nature of our minds, not to assign ideas of “good” or “bad” to our experiences, and definitely not to become attached to them. So, that being said, my meditation this morning was neither good or bad. If anything, it was a roller coaster.
I’m not really sure what was going on with me this morning. I woke up just feeling…off. Out of sorts. I felt tired, burned out, and cranky for no reason, and was beginning to take it out on my cat. At that point I knew I had to practice, immediately. I hadn’t practiced at all over the weekend and it was beginning to show. So I went to my shrine, lit candles and incense, bowed three times, and sat down. That negative, out of sorts feeling sat with me. It sat with me through the opening prayers and recitations. It sat with me while I attempted to practice cultivating bodichitta. Through it all I kept telling myself “there’s no such thing as a good or bad meditation. It is what it is.” I told myself that while I offered the mandala, and recited the Vajrasattva mantra. I closed my eyes and meditated on the nature of my mind for about ten minutes, basically ten minutes of just feeling like “bleh”, and repeating to myself, “there’s no such thing as a good or bad meditation. It is what it is.”
I opened my eyes and moved to the Guru Yoga, the part of the practice that I’m currently focusing on. I visualized Vajrayogini and Padmasambava. I recited the Guru mantra five hundred times. And as I closed my eyes for another ten minute session, I felt a shift. Suddenly I felt better inside. I could visualize Padmasambava almost perfectly, which doesn’t happen every day. I sat there, thoroughly enjoying myself, thinking “man, this is nice. I needed this.” And then, somewhere in the back of my mind I heard, “there’s no such thing as a good or bad meditation. It is what it is.”
I guess because I was feeling so off base it was nice to think that my practice was finally going right. But that’s still attachment, and the whole point of meditating in the first place is so I can learn to let go of attachment. I realized that, and I realized also that the storyline I was telling myself was that I was feeling bad and that meditation would make me feel better.
The crazy part is that as soon as I dropped that storyline, I felt very calm. Everything dropped away and it was just me and my breathing and the whirring of the ceiling fan. And before I could get attached to that, my timer went off and I concluded my practice.
It’s easy to get attached to the good experiences in our lives and to run from the bad ones. I say this because I’m the poster child for wanting to run when the going gets tough. My point is that when life feels like a roller coaster, we have to remind ourselves that there’s no such thing as a good or a bad experience. It is what it is. Attachment will only bring suffering. Dropping the attachment can bring peace of mind.