Meditation Goals: Three Categories

I am still trying to answer that question I asked a month ago: What are some ways that you can measure progress with meditation?

So far, I have my overall goal: Remove as much delusion as I can by studying my mental activities.

I also have a few guidelines to follow in order to have the right attitude while meditating:

  1. Don’t expect anything.
  2. Don’t force anything.
  3. Don’t cling to anything.
  4. Don’t reject anything.
  5. Don’t think.

But my overall goal is too abstract for practical measurements. And while my attitudinal guidelines can be measured, trying to achieve them alone will not get me to my end goal.

After reading through a few more chapters in Mindfulness in Plain English, I have come up with some goals that can be grouped into three categories:

  1. Attitude
  2. Attention
  3. Insight

The “Attitude” goals directly match up with the guidelines listed above. While meditating, do I expect less? How often do I force thoughts out of my head? Is the frequency decreasing over time? How often do I recognize the “sense of distance” from thought that I posted about in January? Have I recognized my desire to control my breath while focusing on it? Has that desire decreased over time?

The “Attention” goals really come down to one thing: how long can I concentrate on one thing? This means that I should see the number of thoughts that interrupt my concentration on my breath decrease over time. I am not planning on counting the number of interruptions or timing how long I go without an interruption. I have already done that and it was too distracting. I will keep a general estimate of the time while meditating.

The “Insight” goals are related to changes in the way that I perceive my thoughts and feelings. Do I recognize something about a thought that I would not have noticed if I was not meditating? Are there feelings that come up while meditating that I normally ignore or reject. What delusions has meditation uncovered?

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