Having a Hard Time Meditating? Read This.
No one has been “good” at meditation. Ever.
Meditation is not like drawing a picture, building a castle, or closing a deal. It is not something at which you are successful or unsuccessful. It is a process.
When you lift weights, some progress is always happening. Some fat is being burned and some muscle is being generated. If you go to the gym daily, lift weights correctly for a certain period of time daily, then there will be some progress daily. Some days you may feel like a champ lifting and other days you may feel like gutter swine. It doesn’t mean anything.
How you feel about a particular meditation sitting isn’t an actual insight into how useful or effective a meditation practice is for you. This is the incredibly crucial truth about meditation: It is wholly unlike any other way you have previously used your attention.
Let me ask you this: How often do you rest your attention on something for an extended period of time without wanting, expecting, straining, ignoring, forgetting, contemplating, or fearing? Yeah, me neither.
That’s why meditation is such a slippery challenge at first. It is very unfamiliar territory. So when you sit with your attention resting on your breath or between your eyebrows, all of the above experiences like wanting, straining, contemplating, fearing, and so on will persist. It is like turning off a ceiling fan and watching it continue to spin for a while.
Many people take that continued “spinning” of their mind as a sign that something is wrong or isn’t working. This is not so and this is why refraining from all forms of judgment during meditation is essential.
Meditation is about the cessation of thought. Not silencing your mind but allowing your mind to become silent. There is a difference between thinking and having thoughts. Thinking is under your conscious control, having thoughts is not–it is a spontaneous habit. In meditation, you gradually learn to cease deliberate use of thought. The spontaneous-thought-habit will continue but it is starved by the lack of your own support like a flame without oxygen. Sooner or later, the habit unclenches into peaceful silence.
If your mind wanders down a train of thought, you notice this and you bring it back to the focus of your meditation (the breath or the space between your eyebrows). That’s it. Over and over you must do this until your attention stops wandering.
If you get angry at your mind for wandering, if you judge yourself for not meditating “better,” if you try to force the mind to fixate on the focus of your meditation, then it’s like you are turning the ceiling fan off and on over and over. It will take a long time for the fan to finally become still. The above forms of anger, judgment, and force are themselves thoughts and will perpetuate thinking, thereby disrupting the actual dawning of silence.
Patience is an important mantra for meditation. My guru said something the other night that I really liked, “Be a friend to yourself.” In meditation, don’t judge and scold and strain yourself. Be polite, gentle, and patient with your mind. Just watch and rest the attention on the focus of the meditation and let that be that. Whatever comes, comes. Do not engage, judge, or attempt to reject or cling to certain thoughts or experiences.
All sorts of emotions may arise. We are accustomed to welcoming some emotions and clinging to them, while rejecting other emotions and fearing them. In meditation, we do neither. As a result, we experience emotions with more fullness. It is when an emotion is given such space and freedom that it finally is able to leave. Until you give freedom to your emotions, they wont be free to leave you.
You can meditate and become a meditator, because anyone can. It will change your brain and body in measurable ways. It will change your life. And it will change the world for the better.
Be courageous and be true to your divine potential within. Nothing of this world can stop you from walking the path.
Take heart and keep at it.
Namaste, my friends. Much love.