Is there a wrong way to meditate?
If someone was meditating incorrectly could it be harmful to them?
There is no incorrect meditation; either you are meditating or you are not. It’s black and white. There’s no gray area because if you’re incorrectly meditating – it’s wonderful! You’re still meditating. There’s no problem. In fact, this whole idea of “Am I meditating correctly or incorrectly?” itself is incorrect.
This confusion happens when we become a little too obsessed with the technique, finding the perfect method, or the exact right way of doing something. Have you noticed that the more sure you are about your meditation, the more certain you are about your meditation, that you can turn anything into meditation? Anything and everything can become today’s meditation. It’s not about right or wrong, it’s about bringing yourself to the act of meditation and to understand very clearly what is meditation and what is not.
This idea of “meditating incorrectly” happens because if you do certain things incorrectly, you could get hurt. For example, if you don’t know how to drive properly, you may not only hurt yourself, you could hurt someone else as well. The very nature of meditation is such that you know you’re sitting quietly, and you’re closing your eyes. What could you be doing incorrectly, because there is so little to do? Only when there is something to do is there the idea of correct and incorrect.
Meditation is not doing. Meditation is being. If you’re not being, if you’re doing something, then you’re not meditating at all – you’re just doing something. So the questions should be, “What do I do about this doing – the doing of the mind, the doing of the body, the doing of my thoughts? How do I simply get into a meditative state?” Those are more relevant questions. When you’re not able to be in that meditative state, what exactly is happening? Where are you drifting, and how do you bring yourself back? If you come to the right understanding of meditation, then there’s no harm, but if you don’t – if you confuse meditation to be something else, then, of course, there could be harm.
When you’re able to come to meditation, when you’re able to sit quietly, and when you’re able to come to the understanding – that basic understanding that meditation is about being it’s about conscious watchfulness, conscious wakefulness, conscious rest – the moment you come to this clear understanding, then you should not keep on trying to find the right method.
If you just become too obsessed with finding the right method, you will miss the beauty of meditation. You are the method. There is no external method. The most important thing in meditation is you – your state of mind. Meditation is extremely simple. There’s not much difference between watching in between your eyebrows and watching your breath or watching the tip of your toes, so don’t keep shifting.
When you think, “I’m enjoying this meditation, I’m connecting with it, I’m progressing, that’s enough” – perfection in meditation is an illusion. Don’t seek perfection, don’t seek a perfect method, and don’t seek right and wrong in meditation. Put yourself in a meditative state and experience whatever that is happening there. If you can observe the breath, observe the breath. If your observation moves to your legs, move there. If that observation moves to listening, then move – that’s okay. Be a little more flexible; you need not be stone-like in meditation.
You have to be flowing like a river. Your awareness should be so accommodating that it should not be struggling with a method. Your meditation should be so accommodating that you have the ability to change even a disturbing thought into your object of meditation.
Conflict is a part of your mind: “Is this the right method? Is this the right approach? Is this the right number of hours? Should I be doing more? Should I be doing less? Should I be listening to somebody else as well just to ensure that I’m not being misled?” All these are thoughts. You are your teacher. You are your method. You are your path. You are your destination. You are everything. Every time you are available to the process know that “Yes, I’m in meditation.”
Your meditation will always be wrong and you will always be making mistakes. Embrace these mistakes and don’t criticize yourself. Just say, “Okay, I’m making mistakes. It’s perfectly fine. I’m drifting away a little bit, but it’s perfectly fine.” Everybody who has meditated has gone through the same process, and everybody has fallen multiple times. It takes falling and getting up – that’s the process of meditation.
Meditation is not taking you on the same established pathways of another meditator; it is creating new channels in your mind, new channels in your heart, new ways of looking at life, and new ways of looking at yourself. It is not a repetition. It is a bit of a challenge, because we are more used to doing things in the same way, following others, copying others. Meditation is probably the only thing that you cannot copy from someone. You can pick up a technique, but you have to do it one hundred percent in your own way. You have to bring your own attitude, your own behavior, your own courage, your own intelligence, and your own understanding.