Doubt, of all the resistances to practice, can be the most difficult to overcome, because it often comes from inside, where perspective is often skewed. When doubt is allowed to grow and get stronger, it can cause you to completely walk away from practicing altogether.
How does doubt take root?
One of the fertile grounds for doubt is being too goal-oriented. When the focus is too much on the goal, there is a tendency to rush toward achieving something. As a result, the process of growth and learning is under-valued. In this situation, doubt can take root, because your expectations exceed the real experience that is taking place moment to moment. The path to the goal has been forgotten.
When doubt has taken hold, it prevents you from truly practicing and strengthening meditation skills by causing you to question your practice too early. Such questions, fueled by doubt, might be: Can I really do this? Am I doing it right? How well am I doing? These questions interfere with the ability to see your own progress, as it shifts awareness away from the moment, and toward a future goal and a self comparison in relation toward that future goal. This in turn can begin to shake your self-confidence, causing you to doubt your own abilities. You may begin to ask yourself if you can really do meditation. Or you may wonder if you are doing it right or question how well you are doing.
These questions, when fueled by doubt, build walls, blocking you from present moment awareness and clarity, because they are asked too early.
How do you deal with doubt when it arises?
If you can pinch off the first sprouting of doubt before it really takes root, you will have prevented a very challenging resistance to meditation practice from interfering with your ability to meditate or possibly stopping you from practicing all together.
A blog by Ven. Do'an Prajna and Lotus Heart Zen sangha members.
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