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I meditate a few years now. Since 3 months circa 1h at 4 days a week. Sometimes I pause due to "worldly" obligations. Today I started again after a 2 weeks pause. I experience a better ability to "get into the flow". I often made the experience, that pausing meditation can "level up" the experience. Sorry for the possibly not appropriate words. I have to say, that between these meditation phases I learn Dharma like listening to Shantideva "Way of a Bodhisattva" or sth. else. And I do mostly Shamata. Do you experience sth. similar? Is there a statement of the Buddha about the value of pausing meditation?

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Interestingly, I experience a similar phenomenon when I miss a day. My first sit back on the cushion always seems to be better (you'll note the emphasis). I always feel more relaxed and it appears that I'm able to follow my breath a bit more closely.

But this is a complete illusion. It also largely misses the point of meditation. How you feel on the cushion, how focused you think you are, how "in the flow" it appears - none of that is really important. Meditation isn't about "feeling good" or "being focused". While those sensations will often arise, when they're your metric for judging your practice, you're headed down the wrong path. Mediation is, first and foremost, the catalyst for insight. It is a tool we use to uproot our karmic obstacles. While a sharp and well maintained tool has an esthetic all its own, its real value is only in the work it allows us to do.

If you haven't been on a retreat, this may sound strange, but I think the following example might help. On day one of a sesshin (for instance), our sitting is the sitting of the world. If we are sitting well in our day to day practice, we sit even better those first couple of hours. Gradually, however, the perceived "quality" of our sits begins to decline. We may start to "feel" more antsy or distracted, for example. The reality, however, isn't that our sitting has gotten worse. What's happening is that our minds are beginning to become still. We don't become restless, but rather we notice the restlessness in ourselves that was always there. As the retreat progresses, we start to move through even deeper layers. Our restless might evolve into sadness, hopelessness, and feelings of futility. We may start to remember awful events from our past - memories that we'd rather not confront. We might begin to question everything about ourselves, our lives, all that we have done and have left undone. By the metric of "being in the flow" or "sitting in bliss" we'd immediately label these as "bad sits". But they're not. These feeling were always there, but the flurry of our lives was allowing us to ignore them. In periods of deeper sitting, they become apparent and can be worked through. These are the sits that help move the needle of our practice. These sits are the reason we practice at all.

To bring this back to your question, when we first begin to sit, those first few months can be like a cool breeze on a summer's day. Sitting is so unlike our previous lives. The respite is provides is as sweet as lemonade sipped on the front porch. The longer we sit, however, the more we begin to tap into our karmic obstacles. These don't taste as sweet. When you take a break, you're going back to the lemonade. It is appealing and offers fleeting satisfaction, but don't mistake it for the real meat of practice.

Koan 17 of the Hekiganroku
Cutting through nails and breaking steel for the first time, one could be called a Master of the First Principle. If you run away from arrows and evade swords you will be a failure in Zen. The place where even a needle cannot enter I’ll leave aside for a while, but when the foaming billows wash the sky, what will you do with yourself then?

Case

A monk asked Kyorin, “What is the meaning of Bodhidharma’s coming from the west?” “Sitting long and getting tired.”

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  • Thank you very much.
    – S.H
    Commented Mar 8, 2022 at 19:20
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We're not really looking to make meditation easier. Wanting to do so is a desire that should be observed with mindfulness.

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