Pema Chödrön on Why to Meditate

African American Woman Meditating In Nature

We do not meditate in order to be comfortable. In other words, we don’t meditate in order to always, all the time, feel good.

Meditation gives us the opportunity to have an open, compassionate attentiveness to whatever is going on.

The meditative space is like the big sky— spacious, vast enough to accommodate anything that arises.

In meditation, our thoughts and emotions can become like clouds that dwell and pass away.

Good and comfortable, pleasing and difficult and painful—all of this comes and goes.
So the essence of meditation is training in something that is quite radical and definitely not the habitual pattern of the species, and that is:

To stay with ourselves no matter what is happening,

without putting labels of good and bad,

right and wrong, pure and impure, on top of our experience.
If meditation was just about feeling good (and I think all of us secretly hope that is what it’s about),we would often feel like we must be doing it wrong.

Because at times, meditation can be such a difficult experience.

A very common experience of the meditator, in a typical day or on a typical retreat, is the experience of boredom, restlessness, a hurting back, pain in the knees—even the mind might be hurting—so many “not feeling good” experiences.
Instead, meditation is about a compassionate openness and the ability to be with oneself and one’s situation through all kinds of experiences.

In meditation, you’re open to whatever life presents you with.

It’s about touching the earth and coming back to being right here.

While some kinds of meditation are more about achieving special states

and somehow transcending or rising above the difficulties of life,

the kind of meditation that I’ve trained in and that I am talking about here is

about awakening fully to our life.

It’s about opening the heart and mind to the difficulties and the joys of life—just as it is.

And the fruits of this kind of meditation are boundless.

Pema Chödrön

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