Once you had a few meditation sessions, it is helpful to point out some of the obstacles you may have experienced. New meditators might initially feel tempted to give up as soon as they come across any of these. However, these obstacles can be turned into opportunities to learn about yourself. They actually help us to eventually master the practice of meditation.
- Propensity to bolt
This is a very powerful urge that can come out of nowhere. You have all the good intentions to sit and suddenly, sometimes very soon, sometimes halfway through your designated time, you can’t stand sitting anymore and you are desperate for a distraction, need to pee, eat, drink or anything else. This desire can be so strong that you almost want to jump up and run away.
We are not used to have empty moments in our life, we have the urge to fill them. We have been conditioned to fill our days with lots of things to do. It is fashionable to be busy. Doing nothing is associated with being lazy or even being a loser, so we find stuff to fill up these moments.
- Feeling bored
Boredom is an expression of dissatisfaction with what you are doing. There must be something better I can do. ‘Fomo’ or fear of missing out is also a feeling of not being able to accept ‘what is’. Boredom sets in when curiosity has left the mind. Wake up your sense of exploring and analyse why you are bored. Notice your own reactions. You will find that boredom si
mply disappears when you start investigating.
- Losing faith / Doubt
Losing faith is when the ability to persevere with your meditation practice starts to disappear and doubt sets
in. Why am I meditating? I haven’t seen any results, I had no ‘wow’ moments, my mind is still busy, so why should I believe in continuing the practice? It is rare to have any wow moments. ‘Flow moments’, where a sense of time and being is lost seem to have their own agenda. We cannot expect to have them, once we have expectations of them to return they won’t happen. Flow is like happiness and they both behave like a butterfly. When we chase it, it cannot be caught, yet if we sit quietly and least expect it, it descends on us, almost without us knowing it. Just be kind to yourself.
- Sitting with the incorrect alignment posture
If you really want to sit in a cross-legged position but it is bad for your knees you can injure yourself over time If your back is not strong enough and you sit lunched over for a long time can cause back problems.
- Constantly feeling sleepy
Recognize that you are in need of sleep. Try a different time to practice. It may your best time to practice when you have just woken up in the morning or after a nap.
- Fear that the same thoughts keep appearing
Most people don’t realise that we can liberate ourselves from continually returning thoughts. Not by pushing them away, but by acknowledging we have them. It is our attitude to these thoughts that is important. These thoughts are not the ‘essence of who we are’ they do not form part of our personality. They simply turn up uninvited. Thoughts will dissolve by themselves once we are open to them rather than trying to push them away. Recognize the thoughts that keep coming back, inspect them, see if you can understand why they keep coming back. Inspect these thought from different perspectives. This way these thoughts can be neutralized and detached from the accompanying emotions. Finally you are then able to let go and the thought will float to the background of your mind. With very persistent thoughts, you may need to do this more than once and even more than ten times. After a while they become like old acquaintances and you can say to yourself: ‘Ah you again! I kind of was expecting you to turn up. Welcome back.’ Or something to that extend.
- Mental Disturbance
This is a rare occurrence, but it is strongly recommended that you never abruptly stop your meditation. If you cannot control the urge to answer the doorbell or the phone, make sure you put up a sign on the door and turn all the phones off in your house. Some people have the sensation that meditation disconnects the body from the mind. Sometimes this sensation stays and drives the people mad. This is not likely to happen to most people, but just in case….Always make sure you ground yourself, become aware of your body and stay in the meditation until you truly feel every part of your body before you come out.
- Strong Emotions
When we enter into a state of relaxation in meditation, strong emotions can sometimes arise. This can happen for several reasons:
- When the mind settles suppressed emotions can rise to the surface.
- Deep relaxation can unwind the mind and in this dreamlike state the mind will continue to process issues, as it would at night when we dream.
- We tend to suppress uncomfortable emotions, but suppressing these means that we resist the flow of our life energy. We get into a situation of ‘stuckness’. However, if we let these emotions flow and allow ourselves to experience them completely without judgement it will be easier to resolve that emotion. For instance when anger arises, become aware of the story that brings that anger on. Explore the sensations of anger. Where and how do you feel it in your body. Acknowledging the anger with the awareness on its sensations, you can let go of it, resolve it, so it drifts back to the background of your mind, like the sounds of our daily life, that have moved to the background in the same way.