The Expectation Conundrum

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Meditation is the gift that keeps on giving. 

I find, over and over, that it teaches me new things. And not just the obvious ones like how to be more calm and focused.

Here’s a good example: Many novice meditators begin the practice with a lot of expectation. They hope meditation will eliminate their stress. Or make them happier. Or, if they’re spiritually inclined, maybe even bring them closer to “enlightenment.” It’s a heap of expectation thrown on top of the practice.

But it’s precisely that expectation that obstructs your ability to truly have the meditative experience you’re looking for. Expectation is the dam that holds back the river of awareness. If you simply let go, let it rush in, that’s when it happens.

Whatever “it” is, will be up to you. Some call it “flow.” Others call it “awareness.” Others simply “tranquility.” When you’re first starting out, it doesn’t matter what you call it.

But noticing this funny conundrum of expectation reminds me, over and over, that lofty expectations potentially sully any experience. When we build up a fantasy—or a worry—in our minds about what some future engagement will be like, we only undermine the experience itself. It’s better to simply show up, let it happen—whatever that is. And oddly, it is almost always a more meaningful experience when we don’t layer our pre-conceived meaning on top of it. 

So instead of expecting, we can simply notice. 

We are at our best when we let life surprise us.