This has happened countless times. Even when I’ve been really into my meditation practice. I’ve started a sitting, I recall the first minute, then the next thing I know: my timer has gone off to signal the end of the session.
Even worse, this can happen with a guided meditation. I can be so distracted that the sounds become lost in another world while my mind is drifting or is caught up in some imaginary scenario.
Even worse than that, this pattern has sometimes repeated for days.
At such times, it can seem like the meditation isn’t doing anything at all. It can become a question: is there any point in continuing to sit if all I’m going to do is drift for half an hour?
And yet, if I look at the difference between un-mindful meditation and no meditation, it’s clear that these apparently worthless sittings are doing something. The feeling of steadiness continues to be supported.
The answer, in all cases, is to check our experience. Is this leading in the direction of less suffering, in my life, in general? Does it do no harm?
And keep learning. From books, courses, teachers, even websites.
I’ve avoided the phrase ‘bad’ meditation, because there are some things you can do that are unhelpful and can make you feel worse if you don’t figure them out. An example is spending the whole time in negative judgement about failing to be mindful. I have enough experience not to do that, even in the cases I’m describing in this post.