Over and over we hear our meditation teachers tell us not to "judge" our meditations. But of course, we all do. It's always somewhere between the "What a great meditation!" and the "This was terrible".
We are all trying to be "good" buddhist and students, we want to practice the different methods, we want to become better parents, better partners... better people! We want to stop experimenting anger, or pride, or to recognize these emotions as soon as they are triggered so we no longer cave in and produce negative karma... We want to be worthy of the Lama, we want to become Buddhas!
Sometimes I am so disappointed at my meditation I wonder if I meditated at all.... Was I actually meditating? or did I just sit there, letting the thoughts go wild while I repeated a mantra like a parrot. Yes... I can be pretty hard on myself.
I recently asked a meditation teacher about these experiences, and whether "they counted" as meditation or not. With lots of compassion he said they do. "When it comes to our practice - he said - whatever we did is done." And of course he said not to judge our meditations... yes... I know...
I am working on this now, on sitting on the cushion to do my thing, as best as I can, and then just stand up and leave the cushion behind. No further thoughts, whatever I did is done. Seriously, I am!
So there was I Sunday evening, in our Buddhist Center gompa, happily meditating away, while other friends were doing their own stuff; when in walked a man with his three year old little girl. Quietly he took her around the room, shoing her the Buddhas on our altar and the different thangkas on the walls. He was very respectful of us and whispered quietly. But a three year old is a three year old. She could appreciate that her father was whispering, and she answered in whispers also; but mainly she saw a big, long room, all to herself. She started running to and fro, giggling, she went up to the altar and grabbed a mala (what a wonderful toy!), and daddy sat down somewhere and left her to it.
I will be fair, she wasn't being noisy, but she wasn't quiet either. She was running around, not loudly, but still... running around. To say I was irritated would be just. I was. And the more time they spent there, the more frustrated I got... My mind was giving me pictures of the carpeted area full of toys, devoted to children in our cafeteria, a mere 100 meters away, and I was seriously wondering why this man could not simply realize that a more appropriate place lied in the next room.
Changing rapidly, I next had images of my daughters, years ago, when I first discovered the Dharma. And how much I wanted to share it all with them, how touched I was when they would mumble a mantra, or stroke a statue. All in all, my meditation was a disaster.
As all this intense drama unfolded between my ears, the guy simply sat there, on the carpet and watched his girl run happily to and from the altar. As I followed her with my gaze I saw the statue of the particular Buddha aspect I was meditating on, and somehow was able to resume my concentration. I repeated the mantra a little louder than before and closed my eyes tightly. I focused on the visualization of this perfect Buddha form and suddenly the little girl, her father, and actually the whole room was gone.
For a delicious time I enjoyed one of the most focused meditations I have ever practiced. What a joy! (yes, I know, I am still judging.)
As I came out of the gompa, I met the papa and the little girl. I sat next to them and stroke her soft hair, and in halting and clumsy Hungarian started a conversation. His very first words were an apology. I told him how frustrated I had been, and he further thanked my patience. I said I was anything but patient, but explained what happened after, and how much more intense my experience had been thanks to their visit. I thanked him. He smiled and went on to explain in great detail why he had taken his child to see the Buddhas, unfortunately, I didn't understand much of that. We later said goodbye and he enthusiastically congratulated me on my command of the language... basically that was the only part I really understood.
What a great meditation!!! :)