I often see people carrying the belief that meditating equals being without thought. And the reality is that, if you go into your meditation practice with the expectation that you'll be free of thoughts, you'll not only feel very disappointed after your meditation, but you'll also feel frustrated during the meditation. And why? Well, because you have a brain. And having a brain equals having thoughts.
The longer you've been active in your meditation practice routine, the better will be your ability to sustain longer periods of time with little to no thoughts. But this doesn't mean that the journey toward that point of your practice doesn't count as meditation. It also doesn't mean that if you're thinking during your meditation, you're doing it wrong.
Here goes the recipe
Having said that, I want to share with you what I consider to be the 2 main ingredients of a beautiful meditation: compassion & forgiveness.
If you make your meditation goal to be compassionate and forgiving with yourself, I can assure you that you will have the most wonderful meditation of all. You'll be able to cultivate a sense of belonging and acceptance within yourself, that will make you feel safe to be who you are, the way you are.
If you approach your meditation with compassion toward yourself, the minute you close your eyes, you'll automatically feel the presence of a welcoming place of infinite love. This means that no matter what happens during your entire meditation, you'll feel at peace with it.
Meditation is not something that you do to bring more difficulty and challenges into your life. Meditation is something that you do to find comfort in the present moment. It's something that you do to learn to accept and fall in love with the wholeness of your being, including both the beautiful and the ugly, only to figure out that the ugly is also beautiful.
Change your goal
So instead of going into your meditation with the hopes of seeing no thoughts, go into your meditation with the goal of being accepting and loving of the thought storm that arises. Be compassionate with yourself just because. Be compassionate with yourself for the duration of the entire meditation simply because you deserve to have a moment where nothing is more important than receiving and feeling that compassion. Do it during the meditation, since you forget to do it when you're out there in the world, and slowly, you'll see how you start bringing this compassion into your daily life.
So compassion is #1, and then we have our next very important ingredient: forgiveness.
You need forgiveness, to bring kindness into the meditation when you forget to be compassionate. We're so not used to showing compassion to ourselves, that we can easily keep forgetting to do it during our meditation. And that's why we need forgiveness. To forgive ourselves for not being compassionate.
Forgive yourself over and over again. Forgive yourself for everything that shows up during your meditation. And even if you feel like you don't deserve forgiveness for some things, because it's not up to you but to someone else to forgive you, forgive yourself. Because forgiveness belongs to whoever holds it and wants to give it away. So somebody else might not be willing to forgive you, and that's okay. That's not yours to decide or to take control over. But forgiveness from yourself to yourself, belongs to you.
Keep it loving and simple
So when you go into your meditation, forget about the pressure of having no thoughts, and embody the role of a compassionate and forgiving observer who's holding space for you to be. Meditation is your safe space. Use it wisely and bring nothing more than compassion and forgiveness into it. You deserve it. Your soul deserves it.