🧘 How can I assess progress in my meditation practice?

Though meditation may not be something that you can quantifiably see progress in the same way you would with an endeavor like working out in the gym or losing weight, there are a number of different ways you can assess the progress in your practice. One approach is to ask yourself a series of questions about your current experience in day to day life to gain an understanding of where you're at in relation to some of the concepts and teachings in the practice. After an initial assessment, you can come back to the same questions periodically (at an interval that makes sense to you) to see if things have changed or progressed since the last time you asked yourself the questions. Below are a few example questions that may be a helpful starting point for assessing progress in your practice:

  1. Do you notice reactivity more often as it arises, either in your meditation practice or in daily life?
  2. Are you less immediately reactive to difficult or stressful situations?
  3. Over time, are you generally becoming aware of the wandering mind more quickly in your meditation?
  4. In daily life, the feeling of rushing is good feedback that we're ahead of ourselves, not being settled in our bodies. Do you find that you're rushing less often — or becoming aware of it more quickly?
  5. Is there more awareness in your speech - perhaps refraining a little more frequently from angry or judgmental speech?
  6. Is there a little more openness or mindfulness in being with other people - more willingness to listen?
  7. Are you becoming a little more familiar with the qualities of equanimity and concentration in the practice?
  8. Are you using the tool of mental noting, and is it becoming a little more continuous, at least for periods of time? Is the tone of the note becoming softer?
  9. Is there a little more ease in being with whatever arises in your meditation practice, simply noting it for what it is?
  10. Is it a little easier to sit longer?
  11. Are you becoming somewhat more aware of the changing nature of all experience, and holding onto things a little less?

If you're interested in hearing more from Joseph Goldstein on this, check out the first several sessions from the course Common Questions on the app.