Meditation is Easier than You Think

By Tergar Staff • 3 min read

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Don’t Think of a White Bear

Many people have the wrong idea about meditation. For instance, one popular but incorrect notion is that in meditation, you’re supposed to think of nothing, and completely empty your mind. So, in trying to do it “right,” some folks will sit bolt upright on the cushion, eyes squeezed shut, concentrating really hard on their breath. They think, “Okay, I am aware of my breath! Inhale. I’m not going to have thoughts! Zero thoughts! No thinking allowed! Exhale.” Really, though, this is too tight. It’s like the famous thought experiment of attempting to not think about a white bear, which instantly calls to mind that exact image. It is not natural. And, if you’re trying to do this, you’re missing what meditation is about.

If it Weren’t for that Fly, I’d Be Calm Right Now!

Another popular but mistaken idea about meditation is that the point is to get “blissed out.” In other words, you’re trying to achieve a particular state of mind, such as peace, calm, or joy. A person hoping to capture these elusive states will sometimes paste an artificial smile on their face when they assume their meditation posture. “Peace, here I come… relaxation, here I come.” Gradually their teeth start to grit a little. “Any second now. Be calm. Be relaxed. BE RELAXED!” But of course, trying is the opposite of relaxing. And when you look specifically for peace, calm, or a joyful experience, usually you will find that the Department of Relaxation is going to put you on hold with Customer Service indefinitely. The slightest distraction, like a fly buzzing past your nose, will seem like a horrendous intrusion. “Please, I’m trying to meditate,” you think, to which the Department of Mental Relaxation replies, “Sorry, we’ll have to transfer you to another department!” In trying to be calm, you’re tightening up. This tightening up is not natural, and if you’re doing it this way, you’re missing out on the power of meditation.

Meditation . . . Naturally

To meditate properly, there’s no reason to do any of this convoluted stuff. When you meditate, just follow the natural rhythm of your experience. Just be as you are. Believe it or not, this is one of the most important aspects of meditation. Let go of any misunderstandings that meditation is about seeking a particular state of mind. Now that you know better, you don’t have to try to do anything. Just be completely natural.

“When you meditate, just follow the natural rhythm of your experience. Just be as you are. Believe it or not, this is one of the most important aspects of meditation.”

– Mingyur Rinpoche –

Try this easy meditation for breath

  • Begin session
    • Begin by sitting in a comfortable posture, letting the body be relaxed and at ease.
    • Take a few moments to settle into the body, noticing any sensations that are present.
  • Main practice
    • Next, be aware of your breath. Notice the simple act of inhaling and exhaling. Be aware of the passage of air through your nostrils or the sensation of air filling and exiting your lungs.
    • When images, thoughts, or emotions occur in the mind, there is no need to block them; as long as you do not forget to observe your breath, anything is okay.
    • There is no need to focus strongly. Just know you are breathing—the knowing is meditation.
    • It is normal for your mind to wander off. Whenever you get lost, simply come back to observing the natural flow of your breath.
  • End session
    • Take a moment to appreciate that you are able to breathe. Appreciate that you are taking time out of your day to familiarize yourself with this ever-present awareness.

More Resources

Meditation is Easier than You Think

In this video, Mingyur Rinpoche explains the essence of meditation and describes some common misunderstandings about practicing meditation.

Breathing Meditation

5 min Guided Breathing Meditation with Tergar Instructor Myoshin Kelley (audio)

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Theory and practice of meditation, step-by-step.

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About the Author

By Tergar Meditation Community Team

Tergar Meditation Community supports individuals, practice groups, and meditation communities around the world in learning to live with awareness, compassion, and wisdom. Grounded in the Tibetan Buddhist lineage of our guiding teacher, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, our online and in-person programs are accessible to people of all cultures and faiths, and support a lifelong path toward the application of these principles in everyday life.

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