The way to know if what we are doing is worthwhile is to ask,
“Does this lead to the end of suffering or does it not?” If it does, continue. If it does not, we need to switch our attention to what will. We can simply ask ourselves, “Am I experiencing dukkha? Is there a feeling of alienation or difficulty?” If there is, it means that we are clinging or hanging on to something. We need to see that the heart is attached somewhere and then make the gesture to loosen up, to let go. Sometimes we don’t notice where the suffering gets generated. We get so used to doing things in a particular way that we take it as a standard. But in meditation, we challenge the status quo. We investigate where there is a feeling of “dis-ease” and look to see what’s causing it. By stepping back and scanning the inner domain, it’s possible to find out where the attachment is and what’s causing it. Ajahn Chah would say, “If you have an itch on your leg, you don’t scratch your ear.” In other words, go to where the dukkha is, no matter how subtle it may be; notice it and let go. That’s how we allow the dukkha to disperse. This is how we will know whether the practices we are doing are effective or not.
Ajahn Amaro, from Small Boat, Great Mountain (via sharanam)