Oakville Zen Meditation

#148 Common problems encountered during meditation Feb. 19th 2017

                                         Common problems encountered during meditation

Asked if he is struggling sometimes while meditating the Dalai Lama replied: “ If I don’t struggle, I don’t meditate well”

While practicing meditation, it is normal, even after many years, to encounter problem, difficulties and frustration. The best way to quit meditation is to judge how you are meditating.

Mindfulness-based meditation is the practice of login and training our mind by paying attention without an analytic/ judgmental /decisional goal. The mind will do all the tricks he knows to discourage us. Do not be discouraged or upset when you are struggling while meditating. Struggling is part of meditation.

How often and how much we are perceiving negatively our meditation has nothing to do with its quality or its progress since this negative perception is a creation of the mind and not the result of our meditation.

View your problems and discouragement as an opportunity not a sign of not making progress.

You are progressing even if you are struggling since the effects are cumulative.

The practice of meditation is the practice of awareness not only on your posture, breathing and thoughts. It is also the practice of awareness and acceptance of our problems encountered during meditation.

5 most common problems during meditation:

Wandering thoughts of our monkey mind.

Our mind/brain produces around 80,000 thoughts every day and night. He is not going to stop just because you meditate. On the contrary, the mind will become crazy and will run around to force you not to meditate but rather to dream about this and that. We call it monkey mind jumping from one branch to the next.

This is why we need a focus point such as breathing to anchor our thought-generating machine.

Every time a thought pops up, pay attention to it, press the delete key and refocus on your breathing.

Sometime we do not realize that our mind is jumping around for too long and found that the meditation has been very short.


Drowsiness, snoozing and even napping are very frequent especially when meditating after a long day of work and during meditation retreats. Like our wandering thoughts, it is another way for the mind to push you away from mindfulness. We are experiencing drowsiness first with our body that is when we are stooping, slouching or when our head is dropping. The impossibility to maintain a proper posture such as straight back and neck is an excellent proxy about the level of your awareness. When you notice your back and neck are curving forward just reset your posture and reboot your mind to your focus point. So, check your posture once a while.

To minimize slumping, stooping, wandering thoughts and drowsiness, wake-up your alertness.

To reboot your alertness, Zen teaching is advising the following little tricks:

Counting mentally each exhale from 1 to 10 and then counting down from 10 to 1.

Feeling the slow in-out motion of your belly while breathing.

Keeping your eyes semi open and looking at 4 feet away w/o focusing, w/o staring.

Keeping a little smile is helping to relax and stay awake.

Victim of negative feelings & judgment against your current meditation:

Such as becoming impatient, frustrated, discouraged, distracted and even upset. All of them are another very smart way of the mind to distract you and force you to quit your session and practice.

Pay attention to your negative emotions and judgment. They are normal and we cannot stop them.

Just like for our thoughts, press delete your negativity and refocus on your mind anchor such as breathing.

Body discomfort:

Sitting still for a long period of time may create numbness, restlessness, muscle tension, stiffness, pain especially if you sit cross legs and feeling cold. Reset your posture once a while discreetly.

External distractions:

They are many.

  • Your next chair neighbor is restless, breathing loudly or even snoring. Just touch her/him gently on the lap with a little smile.
  • External noises. They are frequent> Don’t react against them. If you do so they will be perceived as your enemies and they will become even very annoying. Just accept them, as they are part of your meditation since there is nothing you can do to stop them.

3- Room temperature too hot or too cold.

Struggling while meditating has nothing to do with bad or good meditation. It means that our mind

is reacting against it. No problem