It was funny to me when at a meditation retreat in 2015, the facilitator used the word "sincere" to describe the type of meditator I am. It was funny because that has not always been the case. I have had to work for that like just about everything else on this journey of self-growth.
I remember a very long time ago when I first started to try to make meditation a daily practice, I had a very hard time being sincere each time I sat for meditation. I was trying it because I was told by man that it could be good for me. I wanted to feel a closer relationship with whatever my idea was at the time of a God or Higher Power operating in my life. I was led to believe meditation might help in that quest. I had also promised my meditation teacher that I would try to make it a daily practice as he had recommended. I was also studying at the time and I had heard that meditation would help me focus and concentrate better.
Techniques of breathing and repeating a mantra did not seem to bring any more peace to my restless mind for quite a while. I eventually realized I wasn't fully sincere in my practice. I had to begin to look within a bit in order to get to the bottom of the issue of sincerity. That was not a very easy thing to do.
First of all, at that point in my life I wasn't someone who was used to looking within. I was terrified to look within actually. I thought I could just sit for meditation, wait restlessly for the 10 minutes to go by all the while thinking how keeping my body still was so difficult and I would see the results of meditation! I really believed I was going to make progress by just sitting for meditation and not sincerely trying.
Pretty soon I came to realize that my inability to be sincerely about the practice was closely linked to fear and general lack of patience. Meditation was about to rock my world and I had no idea.
My start may not sound very good but overall this was a good start for what would become a lifetime practice ever since. Sitting there insincerely trying to meditate was actually quite good! Why? Because it was my first experience of discovering that in the external world we can fool people but when we are facing ourselves we cannot. It was my first experience of realizing that the most significant person in the process of meditation was paying close attention to everything I was doing and my intentions behind them -- me (the observer).
Discovering that I was witnessing everything that I was doing and that I could not hide the truth from myself felt like the most profound experience of my life at that point. It's quite amusing to recall now.
But this important lesson in being sincere in my intention and attention turned inward was a crucial lesson for a beginner meditator. It was a lesson I had to go back to many times after until looking within, sitting still, being patient for 10 minutes and being sincere in practicing the technique became easier. If anyone reading this is facing any of these struggles I faced in the early days of meditation, let me assure you it definitely becomes easier with practice. Eventually your 10 minutes naturally grows into 15 and then the 15 grows into 20 and then 30 minutes and so on. Your body gets used to just sitting there and begins to "like" it. The techniques start to feel less forced and more natural.
Sometimes when we become used to going through the motions of life we would like to think we can do the same in meditation. We cannot. The rules of the outer world that we are used to simply do not apply to the inner world. Over time the meaning of that unfolds. Meditation also forces us to pay attention to our intentions and then intensify both of these over time. Only when we are sincere in our intention for any session of meditation and can give sustained attention to it do we begin to progress.