Expectations, You Say?

By Tsunma Kunsang Palmo • 2 min read

Joy of Living

TRYING TOO HARD

When I first came to meditation, I really thought I had no expectations. But when things didn’t go the way I wanted them to or how I expected them to, I started to see that what I was doing was counterproductive to allowing my mind and body to settle. 

This whole process of allowing the mind and the body to settle for me, particularly, was challenging. I had spent my life up until my mid-30s when I started meditating, putting a lot of effort into whatever it was that I wanted to do. I was one of those who fell into the extremes of putting in either all effort or none. And so meditation was just like that. I thought to myself, “Right, I’m here. I’m in Asia. I’m living surrounded by Buddhists, surrounded by people who are meditating,” and I really wanted just to jump in there and get it all.

The learning process involved seeing my habits, making friends with those habits, and realizing that trying harder and putting in that extra bit of exertion was so counterproductive. And in that process – it was quite beautiful because I had to really slow down. I had to really have self-compassion. I think it was the first time I learned to have patience and try a different approach to the challenges I was facing.  And that took time and still does take time. I feel that a lot of where I went wrong with my meditation was not just “the view” — misunderstanding of what I thought the practice was — but it was also on a very visceral level. My body was all about doing, all about activity, all about really trying, really exerting in a very subtle way.

I remember, after quite a few years of working with these practices, sitting in a taxi traveling the often bumpy roads of India and thinking, “Okay, you know, I’m out and about. I’m off for the day and don’t have anything to do. I’m not in a stressful office situation.” I could just feel so much tension and tightness in my body. So, learning to relax on a very deep level with all of that is not something I have ever done in my life. Learning to work with that in meditation and allowing that to be an opportunity to do that was just really wonderful. It’s an ongoing process.

This the excerpt from Joy of Living webinar.

About the Author

Tsunma Kunsang Palmo serves as a guide for Tergar’s Joy of Living and Vajrayana Online courses, the Tergar Meditation Teacher Program, and is a faculty member at the Tergar Institute, which offers experiential and applied courses in Tibetan Buddhism, following a meditative curriculum created by Mingyur Rinpoche.

 

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