Oakville Zen Meditation

#160 MEDITATION: Obstacles & Excuses April 15th 17

         Meditation: What are the obstacles and excuses?

Meditation is to be aware, to focus, to observe a specific chosen subject without using any analytic, judgmental and decisional mental process. It is a awareness-based contemplative mental state where the mind becomes just mirror. When thoughts and emotions pop-out, we accept them; then we let them go by going back to our focusing point. These back and forth focusing point- thoughts – focusing point defines Zen mindfulness meditation.

Meditation will never go smoothly even after 100 years of practice. Struggling is part of it as it is part of life. Like our life, meditation has it ups and downs, excitements, boredom, frustration even despair.

“If we do not struggling in one-way or the other, we are not meditating properly” used to repeat the Dalai Lama.

The job of the brain-mind is, among others, to produce around 80,000 thoughts/day. He is not going to stop just because we are sitting still and straight, focusing on breathing or whatever.

There are many hindrances and obstacles while meditating.

The key is to be aware and accept them the same way we do when facing suffering and its causes.

Resisting, fighting obstacles during meditation and judging the quality of your meditation are perfect recipe to quit as 90% of beginners do within the first 4 months.

This oriental mental exercise requires trust, discipline, determination, time, patience and above all a contemplative non-judgmental approach regardless how you perceive the quality of your meditation.

The most common obstacles that all of us are facing:

1) Not understanding rational, purpose and process of meditation.

2) Initial misconceptions about meditation will create disappointment and even obstacle to pursue the practice.

Among them: It is relaxing, will clear or empty my mind.

It will provide happiness within few days of practice.

It is s fun and easy.

3) Being too judgmental about your own practice is a recipe for quitting rapidly since we are almost always judging negatively our meditation such as too difficult, boring, time consuming, ineffective, etc..

4) Restlessness: 2 types:

Of the mind: Spinning, wandering mind always happen. This is not a failure. Be aware of it and then let go thoughts and feelings. Enjoy the fact that you are aware of your restless mind.

Of the body: This is the equivalent of the restless mind. Don’t worry.

5) Drowsiness/Sleepiness.

Soggy mind is very frequent during meditation when the body is still and we are facing silence.

Solutions to restlessness & drowsiness

If you feel your body/mind restless or drowsy or sleepy here are few tricks, which may help.

Do not judge but, instead, see positively the fact that you are aware of your struggles.

Open your eyes, raise your gaze, reset your posture, take few active breaths and smile.

When your face smiles, your mind will (try it).

6) Strong emotional bursts.

They are frequent especially when we are currently dealing with difficult issues.

The bad, very bad and the ugly may bubble-up out of the blue and this is normal.

Let them come and accept them. Like thoughts, never try to repress them.

Acknowledge them as they are, then let them go otherwise they will become out of control.

7) “Not my fault” excuses to quit.

They are very frequent. Some of them are legitimate but most of them are not and reflect lack of commitment, disappointment following the initial excitement, boredom from routine practice and impatience. Other excuses include: “ My initial issues have been solved, no need to meditate anymore”. Also: new job, illness, vacations. No time (we always find time for priorities, never for the non ones).

8) External distractions such as noise, temperature.

Accepting   surrounding noise and restless members around you are part of meditation.

Final words:

Meditation is extremely powerful and beneficial even if you are struggling every time while doing it. Do not judge your meditation because its positive impacts are not on the practice itself but on the quality of how you perceives your life and how you control your emotions. Remember that its practice is cumulative even if many of our sittings have been perceived as a waste of time. Just be perseverant, patient and non-judgmental. See positively the fact that you are aware of your struggles.

By doing so, your perceptions about life and how to control your emotions will change for the better.