There is so much information about different meditation styles and also so many misconceptions about what meditation actually is.
Here are the most common obstacles encountered on the meditation path with some remedies by Sailesh Chand Darshan, a meditation teacher with 25 years’ experience.
Obstacle 1 – I can’t seem to stop my thoughts – what am I doing wrong?
‘Stopping your thoughts is like asking the ocean to stop its waves’ says Sailesh. ‘It is the single biggest misconception about meditation. You cannot stop your thoughts as it is the nature of the mind to think.’ During meditation practice, we expand another faculty we have – and that is our consciousness. Your consciousness (or awareness) of experiencing your body-mind is the key that unlocks the door of being trapped by your thoughts.
With regular meditation practice, your awareness starts to grow and your thoughts no longer bother you. ‘A growing awareness allows you to dive under the waves, where the mind is not as agitated. You can’t be liberated by that which imprisons you – your mind’.
Obstacle 2 – My thoughts seem to increase during meditation, not decrease!
If you do not prepare yourself for a meditation sitting during the early years of practice, it is highly likely that you will spend your time pondering on your thoughts, rather than training your mind not to follow the thoughts. Sitting for meditation requires intention, focus, concentration and most importantly, consistency.
Once your practice is established, it is highly probable that you will experience heightened thinking for some time. These are generally not thoughts ‘coming in’ but rather ‘thoughts going out’ – a bit like looking at your files before you delete them. The countless impressions you have stored over your lifetime will surface and enter your awareness during meditation. If you know the thoughts are going out, you can approach this experience with awareness – be aware of the thought and let it go, rather than following it and dropping into the usual auto-pilot style thinking pattern. Being in awareness reduces the tendency to follow the repetitive thought patterns – this is a technique used in mindfulness training.
Obstacle 3 – I get bored during meditation
The mind demands constant entertainment, pleasure and stimulation. Today, it is rare to see a person waiting for a bus, or sitting at a cafe without their phone or headphones. We are constantly plugged in – receiving stimulus and input. It is no wonder that we feel bored during meditation!
The whole process of meditation is about mind training so that you can control unnecessary thoughts. For most people these unnecessary thoughts control them’. If we are constantly feeding our mind, there is no opportunity for awareness to grow. Sitting in total awareness of your body, mind and spirit is so powerful that the power of the mind becomes dwarfed and loses importance. This can only happen through meditation.