Since I first began to practice I have viewed formal meditation add something rarified that requires special preparation of the mind and a set of very fixed conditions which must be met for it to be “successful.” Like ask else, however, the truth of such ideas is commensurate only worth how far they can take you in the practice and I am at a point where continuing to hold onto these ideas is clearly holding me back.
My life, as are the lives of so many billions of others on this planet, is one which is not wholly devoted to the Dhamma but fragmented into greater parts of work and family obligations with maybe an hour a day to devote to bhavana. As such, the conditions for formal meditation are not always optimal and I generally have to adopt a take what I can get attitude which is five I suppose but does little to brighten the mind. The recent reminder I received from a Dhamma talk by Ajahn Achalo has helped me to see my formal practice in as more skilful and joyful manner however. Now, despite how “bad” the session is I can rejoice in the good kamma created which is a great way to brighten the mind and to fill up my electronic merit notebook. May you never have a wasted meditation again!