Of course you may experience spiritual transformation while meditating. Sometimes you may drift into a delicious, quasi-mystical state. You certainly may find emotions welling up unexpectedly.
But if that's not your cup of tea, be aware that Just Doing It always works.
Be kind to yourself: your meditation is fine fine fine, just the way it is. Simply sitting still in one place for 10–15 minutes brings about a certain calmness and other physiological changes. If your mind keeps straying, so what? Noticing your thoughts and letting them go is a big part of meditation. There's no such thing as bad meditation!
6 misconceptions about meditation and mindfulness
- Meditation is hard to learn: no way. I learned in a half-hour session with a visiting guru, after which I just did it. Later refresher courses were interesting and pleasant but not necessary.
- It takes a lifetime to learn. Rubbish. You can learn how to meditate by doing a short course, which might take a weekend or six 1-hour sessions.
- You have to meditate for 45 minutes twice a day. Says who?
- It's a deep and meaningful experience. Well, it may be, sometimes, yes. But usually it's just a practical habit with short- and long-term benefits, like brushing your teeth.
- You can't go it alone. You need to commit to a guru, whether Buddhist, Hindu or California New Age. Ah yes, they would say that, wouldn't they?
- Some types of meditation are better or stronger or richer or deeper or morally higher than others. Sure, there are many ways to meditate — breathing, focus, body scanning, mantras... so experiment. Find a method or methods that you like: they're the best ones for you.
The Five Minute Meditator: the best beginner's book I know. I give it away in handfuls and recommend it left right and centre. Even the title is calming and encouraging. Eric Harrison's other books give depth and perspective to the history and practice of mindfulness and meditation — but no dogma. His latest book, Mindfulness 101, welcomes the arrival of mindfulness as a new world-wide mainstream craze, because it strips the conventional monk's robe off this practical, useful tool.
The Perth Meditation Centre sells Eric Harrison's books online
Mindfulness Works: secular meditation and mindfulness courses in New Zealand
Guided Mindfulness Meditation Practices with Jon Kabat-Zinn