What should I feel or think about during meditation?

What will I see during my meditation?

How should I feel?

Should I think about anything specific?

How do I stop thinking?

What can I expect from this experience?

These and similar questions are often asked by those of us who are at the start of our meditation journey. The indication of what the answer might be is in the explanation of what meditation actually is.

Meditation is a practice of being fully present and aware in the here and now. In meditation, we observe our thoughts as they appear. We notice our thinking mind and expand our awareness beyond that. The key here is to focus on our awareness that is wider and bigger than our thoughts to the point that we can see our thoughts and label this mind activity as “thinking”. 

The opposite to it would be getting swamped by the thoughts. It’s something that will likely happen to many of us. A thought may appear and lead us to the next thought and from there to yet another one. We might start thinking about the past, analysing and dissecting events that happened earlier in the day, week or year. Our mind might even wander to the events in our early childhood. We might also start thinking about the future: making to-do lists, planning our weekend or considering what to wear.

Being aware means allowing ourselves a space to discover that our mind has this tendency to be carried away by thoughts to the point that we forget where we are and what we’re actually doing. While it happens in meditation, it’s a reflection of how our minds work all the time, we just get to “see through magnifying glass” during meditation.

Let’s get back to our questions about meditation ! 

What will I see / feel / experience during my meditation?

You will see, think and feel thoughts and feelings that are already within you.

How should I feel?

There is nothing specific you should or shouldn’t feel. 

Should I think about anything specific?

There are no “shoulds” in meditation. Thoughts will come and go and so will our awareness of the present moment. None of it is right or wrong, it just is.  

How do I stop thinking?

Allow yourself to let go of the idea of having to stop thinking. As your awareness grows, the thoughts will naturally begin dissolving. This might happen only for a second or two during your meditation practice, or it may last longer, especially if you’ve been practicing meditation for a while.  

What can I expect from this experience?

The moment we bring expectation into our practice, we can no longer be present with what is. That’s a common challenge that many new practitioners have to face. We can only be present and aware in the here and now when we let go of expectation of what this moment should or shouldn’t be.