Dammit, meditation is hard! To those of you who are new to the practice, this statement may come as quite a surprise considering the overwhelming amount of material in the wellness community that says otherwise. The truth is that for most of us who sit every day we are faced with a regular number of challenges that require an ongoing commitment to intense determination, intense willpower and intense love for the art of stillness.
Ripe with the promise of peace, meditation has become a ubiquitous prescription for a world that is often overwhelming and stressful. Almost immediately, benefits of a regular mediation practice can become evident to you. But like anything new, the novelty can wear off quickly and getting to the pillow can get harder. The practice can even seem like a chore at times. I used to sit and fight my mind, fidgeting and shifting between one butt cheek and the other, until finally I would just sort of give up. Days would pass and suddenly I was back where I started, namely, not meditating. Over the years I’ve learned to always remember what meditation is and isn’t as well as develop a number of tactics and meditation tips that I can use when I find my practice is becoming more difficult to maintain.
A Meditation Reality Check
1.) Meditation Isn’t Special
I can already hear devout practitioners gasping in shock! Let’s get clear though, I’m not saying meditation isn’t an incredible healing practice, but rather that meditation is just like everything else in our lives that we do repeatedly. After enough applications, our minds will ultimately get bored and start looking for the next best thing. This is human nature and something that we need to accept before moving forward.
2.) Meditation Is Physical
Just because we get to sit or lay in stillness when we practice doesn’t mean that we aren’t involved in a physical practice. Being in stillness comes with many challenges outside of the mind. Our bodies get bored and we want to shift when our legs get tingly, we want to itch, we get distracted by a siren outside or the passing headlights of a car that create a momentary distraction behind out eyelids.
3.) Meditation Is Unpredictable
Often times I hit the pillow after an amazing day, with not a care in the world, expecting to have the most splendid time accessing my stillness. These times can be some of the most challenging experiences for me because you never know what the mind has in store for you when you give it the time and openness that it needs to really let loose. It can be especially frustrating when you finish meditating with the feeling that you’ve got more going on inside your head than when you sat down.
Meditation Tips: Destroy Your Roadblocks to Inner Peace
1.) Forgive Yourself
Nothing heals like forgiveness. Whenever your ego starts to sabotage your practice, remember that there is no rule book on meditation. You are likely reaping all of the benefits you need just by putting in the effort to get to your meditation pillow day after day. Regularly release any guilt you may have about missing a day or about having an especially tough meditation because holding onto it will only make it harder to continue practising tomorrow.
2.) Commit To Your Meditation
This has been the most critical lesson for me to learn and is the one that I find makes the difference between a so-so session and a groundbreaking one. Most often, when we are struggling with anything, we just need to buck up and commit to seeing it through to the end. When I am faced with especially sluggish core muscles or a wandering mind, telling myself to commit usually gets me right back on track. Just take a moment to fix your posture, commit to not being lazy and get back to basics – your breath.
3.) Go With The Flow
I’m going to repeat this point once again because it’s that important – there is no meditation rulebook! After nearly two decades of practice, I only know one thing is for sure and that is there is no tried and tested way to reach inner peace. Chanting may work some days, breath work may work others, focus and visualization on a blue moon in Taurus may work too, but the same circumstances the next day may perform completely differently. Be thankful that meditation will bring up what we need to process when we need to process it, be thankful for the tough days and be thankful for the easy peaceful days and most importantly, just keep meditating!
Trevor Ellestad is a writer, an herbalist, and an ex-yoga teacher who spends his days creating plant-based magic at Vega. Trevor keeps a tidy home with his partner and their as of yet un-named spider monkey of a kitty cat in Vancouver, BC. At night, Trevor likes to surround himself with plants and obsess over the seemingly simple lives of cats and robots.