When Meditation Is Difficult

The times when I most resist meditation are when I need it most. For example, when I’m going through a period of high stress.

It can also be difficult to sit with physical pain, when the pain is getting the upper hand.

I few things come to mind.

Firstly, in such stressful times, there are peaks and troughs in the intensity of agitation. Mindfulness practice can help us be aware of these changes. I can choose to meditate when I need it least, so that I have more access to the practice when I need it most.

Secondly, related to the first, we should use all healthy solutions to reduce the original suffering. Let’s not get into a bravery contest and colour our meditation practice with suffering. Make it as easy as possible, then work on the rest.

Thirdly, by practicing with our attention, we can gain some awareness and control of our level of deliberate engagement. Although we might be told to approach and accept suffering, we should use our mindfulness training skilfully to control how closely we approach it. We can choose when to back off from being mindful.

Fourthly, mindfulness skills allow us to titrate our engagement. We can choose how much of the experience we will consciously accept.

This isn’t to claim we have total control over how much pain or stress we let in. Sometimes experience is stronger than our current level of mindfulness. If we are going to use mindfulness, we should measure our practice by whether it does actually reduce suffering. It must always feel like an act of kindness.

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pierretilston

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