It is easy to be fooled into thinking you are meditating correctly if you think meditation is all and only about creating a relaxed “in the now” state.
In fact, when meditation is defined so narrowly, you are cutting yourself off from many of the benefits of practicing meditation.
Indeed, when meditation is seen as something you do to become relaxed, there is a real chance of creating the habit of your meditation being flavored by a typed of lax mind that reinforces dullness, and this is when falling asleep while meditating can be a real problem.
Tsongkhapa, a Tibetan yogi philosopher, warned about this in the 14th CE. Stating that this dull lax state of mind was the cause of stupidity.
So to fully understand whether or not you are meditating correctly, it is important you understand what meditation is and equally what it is not.
What is Meditation
In the Sanskrit language, the word for meditation is Bhavana, and it has the connotation of cultivation.
While in the Tibetan language, the word for meditation is Gom. And gom has the meaning of becoming familiar with an object of virtue.
What is it that we cultivate and becoming familiar with in meditation?
We are cultivating positive, constructive, functional states of mind that facilitate mental health.
We can see from these two takes of the meaning behind the word that meditation is a kind of mental training.
Meditation is, therefore, an activity we undertake to help us grow and is therefore not just about learning to be more relaxed or “in the now.”These are byproducts of the practice of meditation, to be sure but, they are not what meditation is or is for.
Personally, I like the greek philosophical idea of eudaimonia, and therefore, for me, meditation is the practice of awakening to greater states of well-being.
Benefits of Meditating Correctly
In my article on how to start a daily meditation practice, I mention the psychological, physiological, and spiritual benefits of meditation, and so I will not repeat myself here.
I will say this; there are key areas in your life where meditation can have an immediate and lasting effect on your life that if you are not meditating daily, then please know you should be!
Here are five benefits to creating a daily meditation practice:
- Meditation sets the course for the discovery of your true self.
- Meditation develops your ability to focus.
- Meditation diminishes the effect of negative states of mind such as anxiety etc.
- Meditation helps you find your “why.”
- Meditation increases your sense of well-being.
These five should be your yardstick of success.
That is to say, and if you see improvement in at least three out of the five of the list above, then you can be sure your meditation is working well.
This does leave the question, how do I know if I am meditating correctly up in the air, and so it is to this that we shall now turn.
How to Know When You Are Meditating Correctly
This can be summed up into a single word, balance.
If you are balanced with equal amounts of relaxation, stability, and clarity, then you are meditating correctly.
And you will know this because when these three are in a dependent relationship and mutually supporting, they will reinforce each other.
As a result of this, your mind will enter into a focused state of awareness that is (1) peaceful, (2) blissful, and (3) vivid. Vivid in the sense of being highly awake.
When you arise from a meditation session regardless of what you were meditating on – loving-kindness, compassion, consciousness itself, you will feel relaxed and refreshed.
So you can see how this, the third property of vividness, is the very opposite of that dull, sleepy state of mind I mentioned at the beginning of this article.
This can be best understood by how that will feel physiological.
The utility of such a well-balanced mind cannot be overstated.
If you wish to awaken to a deeper state of well-being, then it starts with developing a meditation practice correctly.