Does Meditation Skill Decay Without Practice?

I was once asked, "Does meditation skill decay without practice?"

There is no decay; progress is permanent

I had a student who was a very experienced meditator, who went through a crisis of faith and belief. She stopped meditating completely for two years. One day she called and said she’d like to meditate again, what could she do to recover the skill she had?

I suggested she take a whole day and start meditating at sunrise. I prescribed some specific meditations and asked her to call me again when she needed more guidance.

She called back a few hours after sunrise. “I’m back!” she said. The energy and consciousness of her last meditation, two years ago, had returned.

In that way, meditation is like riding a bike: once you learn it you never forget it. You might ride a little wobbly after a long absence, but within a mile you’ve got it smooth again. Of course, you could be out-of-shape and your legs will tire and hurt.

In meditation, you’re finding the door where there used to be a wall. Even if you stop meditating, you’ll always know there IS a door, and that conviction will manifest a door again.

Yes, there is a setback

Meditation requires a very well-functioning nervous system, and meditation also develops the capacity of the nervous system. For extraordinary consciousness, you need extraordinary energy, and that energy has to go through your nervous system. Things can happen to desensitize your nerves — some self-imposed, some age-related, some accidental. You can usually rebuild the channels of energy.

You will certainly remember how to play a violin even if you stop practicing, but not well.

You need to get in shape again. But this is not athletics, and “in-shape” for meditation is largely a matter of “attunement” — being in tune, like a piano. And tuning is largely emotional. Meditation is sacred; it’s all about love; you’re forming a relationship with your Self.

Restarting meditation is like restarting a relationship with a dear friend that you’ve let go. Approach your heart with humility and vulnerability. Maybe she’ll take you back.


Puran Bair

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