I struggle with meditation. That may seem strange to hear from someone that teaches and guides meditation daily, but it means I understand the struggle. The struggle is real. Meditation is simple, but it is not easy. If it were easy, we would all slip into that state of mind whenever we needed to. There is a reason it is a practice.
You name it, I've felt it in my practice.
Sleepiness...goodness. Sometimes I can't sit for two minutes with my eyes closed without feeling the fatigue set in.
Mind racing? Absolutely. All the thoughts of work, difficult conversations to be had, tasks to be done, things I've forgotten to do, or the creeping fear that I will forget to do them.
Discomfort in my seat? Yep. I sometimes find myself either shifting constantly or torturing myself by staying in a position that makes my feet fall asleep.
Frustration with myself? You know it. Why can't I just do this? I might as well forget it.
Procrastination/Avoidance? Yep. Yep. I definitely experience lapses in my consistency and sometimes it feels like it would take an act of Congress to get me back to the practice.
So how do I handle these hurdles?
1. I make sure that I feel supported and comfortable in my meditation seat and know that it looks different for everyone on different days. That's okay.
2. I recognize that the mind is conditioned to distract us, to lead us to the future or the past and that if I'm overly focused on the outcome, I miss the process.
3. I give myself an anchor to focus on. This can range from the breath, to a mantra, to a visual focus such as a candle flame, or physical one, such as a mudra or counting mala beads.
4. I find variety in my practice. Just like our bodies, our minds become accustomed to our patterns and get bored. Sometimes a little switch in the pattern will trick it to stay anchored in the present.
5. I give myself permission to recognize that sometimes life is life and it pulls us away. Then I make a plan to come back, even if just for a few minutes.
6. Stop trying so hard and let myself accept the experience as it is.
The struggle is real and I understand. What is important is continuing to come back to the practice. The benefits of meditation are innumerable and seep into every aspect of our lives and relationships. I hope some of these strategies are helpful to you. Please share in the comments below if you have some that have worked for you!