Why Meditation Isn’t Working for You

The Problem with Expectations


Jomar Delos Santos

2 years ago | 2 min read

Are you frustrated with having fruitless sits, where you convince yourself that you’re meditating but later open your eyes with no noticeable change to your temperament or physical state?

You might be approaching meditation the wrong way.

The Problem with Expectations

My cousin recently came to me with a problem concerning her ability to start a practice. She wasn’t sure whether she was meditating correctly, if at all. As a beginner she was losing hope in the notion that she’d never be able to silence her brain that was churning out thoughts like a busted ice-cream maker.

I come from a family of scholastically inclined overthinkers. It’s no wonder that most of us, including my cousin and myself, harbor a scatterbrained and reactively anxious mentality as our default state.

I asked her what she expected meditation to be like. She expressed notions of an epiphanic moment that she was missing, a tranquil eureka, or a sudden, intense personal realization.

The problem with expectations is that mediation isn’t about an anticipated outcome. Meditation, especially for a beginner, brings you out of a mindset of time-related expectations back to the present moment.

The silent or loud mundanity of “the now” is what meditation illuminates.

That sore spot in your lower back becomes more apparent, while your earlier annoyance is transformed into a present realization that its source had a physical origin. Sometimes you just need to stretch to eliminate minor irritations of the past.

These physical-emotional links are often forgotten with the neglect of self-care. Just like when you were a child and vehemently denied that your crying-fit was due to tiredness or hunger, you realize as you grow that your neglect of self-care has a direct effect on your moods and motivation.

The answer to your anxiety can be as simple as becoming aware of this link. Or it can be much more complex, deeply rooted in a raw emotional scar lodged in your past; one that your brain can’t help but poke. Wounds like these take time and patience to heal. This is where a consistent daily practice can have a lasting, positive effect.

Photo by Levi Xu (@xusanfeng on Unsplash)
Photo by Levi Xu (@xusanfeng on Unsplash)

Sit with Less

The sober truth of reality seems to become increasingly apparent through meditation. But this doesn’t mean you won’t experience important personal realizations during a productive sit. There will be positivity after the ugliness.

Ultimately, expecting “nothing at all” might help you break an unproductive cycle of distraction that is obscuring your present reality, and by extension your ability to be mindful during meditation.

Remember, if you’re expecting, you’re still lost in thought and not present.

The next time you sit down, expect nothing. Instead, observe.
Try your best to notice how you feel, inside and out.


Created by

Jomar Delos Santos

I write articles to clear your head (and mine).







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