Meditative Experiences? Just Keep Practicing!

By Frédéric Auquier • 3 min read

Joy of Living

“I WAS CONSTANTLY FACED WITH INCESSANT EMOTIONS.”

Mingyur Rinpoche often mentions that when we start meditating, it might seem that we are experiencing more emotions, which may upset us more than before.

Of course, we all know that it is not so much that we have more emotions but that we are more aware of them. In other words, thanks to meditation, we are able to notice them.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always lived with a very keen awareness of my emotions, and my inner life has always been colored by emotions of which I was aware. In fact, I didn’t feel that my emotions increased when I started meditating, as Rinpoche described.

What I can share here, however, is my experience of starting to practice with other people who seemed to me to have a great deal of “up” experiences, states of calm, free of thoughts and emotions.

My experience was quite different. Apart from the recurrent boredom that meditation could generate in me, I was constantly faced with incessant emotions. Early on, not knowing what to do with my experience, whether good or bad, led to even more dissatisfaction.

Hence, following each session, I felt almost constant failure. Added to this was the fact that my fellow students would comment on their practices with unparalleled enthusiasm, speaking of this or that practice as a source of inspiration and unrivaled joy. For me, every moment spent meditating resembled nothing more than a long, laborious film made by a few experimental film university students.

In short, there was nothing particularly exciting about my practice, and I thought I might never enjoy the incredible experiences my peers had.

THE UNEXCEPTIONAL BECOMES EXCEPTIONAL

Today, more than 24 years after discovering meditation, I still practice regularly. That’s probably the lesson to be drawn from this personal anecdote! 

What I have learned and what Rinpoche emphasizes is that the quality of experience — “up” or “down” — is absolutely irrelevant. If there are people around you who talk about their realizations in such a way that they seem unattainable, rejoice for them and keep practicing, even if the experience you are having seems in no way comparable.

Being aware of our own experience, no matter how dull or unpleasant, is the path of meditation. When we stay with our experience, not wishing it to be otherwise, we develop courageous honesty, a quality that will support us and help us gain confidence as we practice.

Understanding that nothing exceptional is supposed to happen during a meditation session may take some time. By letting go of expectations and judgments about our experiences, we will have taken a big step towards seeing—unvarnished and unadorned—the very reality of our world and who we are. And this is where the unexceptional becomes exceptional.

So, if we continue to experience vivid, overwhelming, and even difficult-to-accept emotions every time we practice, let’s remember the intention that led us to sit down in the first place. We simply do the best we can — because the best we can do is what we are already doing.

About the Author

Frédéric Auquier is the principal of an international high school in Paris and teaches French literature. He has been a meditation practitioner since 2001 and a student of Mingyur Rinpoche since 2003. He co-founded Tergar Paris in 2009, teaches in the Tergar Meditation Teachers Program, and facilitates Joy of Living workshops.

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