Writings

Meditating with expectations and disappointment


Everything we experience happens here and in this very moment but nothing is a discreet event. All flows from past to future or appears to do so, and our minds intuitively tie dots of now together into comprehensible garlands of continuity.
Meditating with expectations and disappointment
Events seem to manifest themselves in life in a semi-predictable fashion and we make use of that to build cognitive relationships between present and future events to make things easier for ourselves. And with good reason, human life without a binding line of expectations, would be a tricky affair.

However stretching a semi-predictable reality into a predictable one is a very big stretch. When we decide to ignore life’s unpredictable face and stubbornly commit to the expectation of a pattern long after the warnings of change have been spotted, we make ourselves suffer. Excessive expectations propel us to a time post-experience, and excessive disappointment moves us to a time pre-experience, both removing us from the freshness of the moment, which is where contact with experience really happens. We naturally feel dissatisfied but we erroneously blame reality’s disagreement to go our way for our suffering, when it’s quite clear that it is our inability to relate to each moment as new, which is the cause for such suffering.

Prioritising continuity of perception in order to achieve economic, technological, political or social progress is one the corner stones of our civilisation. In fear of our lives falling apart we deny ourselves the gift of presence and replace it instead with the safety of comfort and prosperity. This eventually turns to be a catch 22, for true joy is an event born of radical now-ness, an event that we cannot part take of while stuck in a web of future expectations and past disappointments. Comfortable, safe and often extremely prosperous, we feel empty, we suffer

 

How to work with expectations and disappointment in meditation

While these are both emotions which are hard to bear and have potentially devastating effects in our lives, working with them in meditation is fairly simple: bring yourself to the present moment stubbornly, again and again.

When thoughts take you either forward or backwards in time, remember life is now.
Disengage from them and bring your attention to your breath, your posture, the physical sensations in your body.

When thoughts take you to the analysis and judgement of other human’s behaviour, remember you cannot control people’s actions.
Disengage from them and bring your attention to your breath, your posture or the physical sensations in your body.

When thoughts take you to the empty space left by unmet expectations and dreams, remember life is magical because it is surprising.
Disengage from them and bring your attention to your breath, your posture, the physical sensations in your body.


This constant return to the actuality of life rather than the thought of it can be tedious, tiring and frustrating but soon you’ll begin to feel at ease in the moment. You’ll be rewarded by the joy of being, uninterrupted by the idea of what it should be instead of what it is.

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