Yes, it is extremely difficult because in life we invariably have some purpose or goal. Many meditation teachers encourage “positive” or “healthy” goals, but I prefer no goals or expectation as our main Vipassana/Insight/ Mindfulness meditation practice. Having no goals or expectation is something uniquely missing in our lives. It bypasses the internal “I/ self” gatekeeper and controller and so may take you beyond the confines of your conditioned “self”. It also bypasses the common pro/con, friend/ foe dynamic.
In my over 40 years of Vipassana/ Mindfulness meditation practice, I have encountered countless, sincere meditators subtly moving away from non-attached, Bare Attention to a variety of directed, “undoubtedly positive” goals, like Peace, Love, Calm, reducing pain and stress, sleeping better and more. All these goals and aspirations are admirable, but if you the Meditator, initially sets out the goal of your meditation practice, then you automatically limit the scope of your practice. You are then moving into a focused/ concentration meditation practice that the Buddha described as Samatha or Samadhi. In life, Concentration and One-pointedness is Power, but not necessarily Wisdom, which we need to direct power.
Vipassana meditation is usually recognized as within the Wisdom (Jnana) stream of meditation which the Buddha recognized as essential for Enlightenment (together with Compassion). In Vipassana, you allow whatever arises in consciousness but you do not get swept away as in ordinary consciousness. Through Non-attachment, you remain the Observer, which may become Love or Nothingness, all essential, but largely unexplored, parts of who we really are. In allowing, we may also see deeply into those compulsive patterns that drive our thinking, emotions and behaviour – what we proudly think of I or Me.
In Dharma, AJ
NB Our next meditation retreat at Harmony Dawn is April 28-30, 2017 with the possibility of staying extra days. Please let us know asap if you would like to attend.