Q: I’ve been meditating for quite a while, but so far I haven’t experienced much of that calm and well-being people talk about. Mostly I just experience my own discursiveness and discomfort. Am I ever going to feel good when I meditate?
A: Not if you keep trying to. I’m not being facetious.
When you’re instructed to rest in things just as they are – including how you feel – that’s not just Buddhist stoicism. Goals like feeling good cause struggle, and struggle is painful. In fact, one definition of nirvana is the cessation of all struggle, also known as peace. So not struggling to feel good – or any other way, for that matter – might be the key to feeling good. (Of course you can’t try not to struggle, because, yes, that’s just another form of struggling.) The catch is that struggle is entertaining, even if it’s painful, and nothing threatens ego like boredom. That’s why Chogyam Trungpa described meditation as a state of “cool boredom” in which we stop struggling and experience our basic nature. (Spoiler alert: that feels good.)