It happens to all of us. We want to meditate, we know it’s good for us, and we feel a heckuva lot better when we do. But we stop. Days, weeks, months go by, and soon, when we start to even think about meditation, we get an uncomfortable pang in our heart….there’s another thing I should be doing but aren’t. And soon, meditation gets coupled with this sense of discouragement.
Listen to this: discouragement is a known occurrence in the path of meditation. It happens, and if we want to keep meditating, we quite simply have to overcome it.
First: we need to take a look at what discouragement actually is. It’s a negative state of mind created by connecting with what we aren’t doing, rather than with all the things that we are. And its function is to disrupt your peace of mind. That’s what it does. “To discourage” is to deprive of confidence, hope, or spirit, and there’s nothing positive about it. And when the thought of meditation gets coupled with discouragement…those are the times when starting up your practice again can seem miles away.
But let’s see it for what it really is: Simply stated, discouragement is a state of mind – perhaps even a habit of mind – that we now want to PRACTICE letting go of.
And we can do this.
1. Realize you are going to have times when you stop meditating. It happens to us all in these modern busy times. It’s not so important that we occasionally stop practicing…what’s REALLY important is that we find a way to begin again.
2. Become familiar with the mind of discouragement when it arises. Notice the pangs and stress it brings with it. Notice that there’s nothing good about it…it’s definitely NOT helping you begin your practice again. If you check, it’s actually doing the exact opposite.
3. Let the mind of discouragement become a PERFECT OPPORTUNITY to practice letting it go in that very moment that it’s arising, by connecting instead to your sincere WISH to meditate, which is a positive mind.
4. Get yourself familiar with this positive mind of wishing or wanting to meditate and what it feels like. Don’t worry so much about actually meditating, focus instead on growing this sincere feeling of wanting to practice. For example: you’re lying in bed at night, you notice the pang of discouragement when you realize you haven’t meditated in over a week. LET THE PANG REMIND YOU of how much you want to meditate. Take a moment to move your mind into all the reasons why you want to meditate – health, peace, relaxation, stability, spaciousness, relief, refuge, whatever it is for you – and let a feeling arise in the mind and body IN CONNECTION to these VERY POSITIVE states of mind you are now creating.
5. Allow this wish to meditate to move from the head to the heart – from thought into feeling – and then try to hold that feeling as long as you can.
6. Repeat every single time discouragement about your practice arises…and see what happens.
Wishes aren’t nothing. They are everything. They actually enable absolutely everything we do in life. We don’t just end up out on a picnic in the mountains. We have to first have the wish to go, and then the stronger this wish becomes, the more it informs our behavior.
While you’re doing these 6 steps, please, don’t worry about meditating. Because you know what?
You already are.