having trouble meditating?

The number of people who give up meditation is no less than the number of those who praise its virtues. They come to the conclusion that they have tried and it’s not something that works for them. They might be disappointed, and sometimes become bitter. So to taste the benefits of this practice, maybe it is necessary to forget the things you have been told to do, and choose the path of simplicity.

Meditation is a tool. Use it when as such, and as many times as necessary, until you have found your natural state of freedom. How do you know when you have reached this state? It is both very simple and paradoxical: this state is reached when there is no state to reach. Not because you have made it, but because you are no longer trying to go somewhere. When you are free, you don’t try to run away anymore.

Yogilab guides you through some of the most common mistakes that can be made when you are engaging in a meditation practice.

There is no obligation to practice meditation. But what a great disservice you would do to yourself if you missed out on the benefits of meditation that can be:

  • Regulation of emotions
  • Gaining distance and perspective
  • Mental clarity
  • Increased concentration
  • A sense of grounding
pexels-sadaham-yathra-813421 (1)-min

Meditation is not about stopping to think but watching yourself think

There’s a big difference here. It is impossible to give up thinking. We have between 60,000 and 80,000 thoughts every day. To stop thinking is like stopping breathing. When you manage to do it, you are usually dead. The objective of meditation is to observe what is going on inside you and notice that you are often running on autopilot. We allow ourselves to be carried away by toxic thoughts that are of little use to us, except to disconnect from the present moment. Either we ruminate on the past or we worry about the future. In both cases, we are rarely in the present moment – the only moment that really exists and matters!

To meditate is to take a break from the outside noise and internal turmoil, and stop projecting your awareness into illusions but get in touch with reality instead. The idea is to learn to be with yourself, placing your mind where your body is, and not letting your thoughts and emotions take control of who you are.

There are plenty of books, audio guides, and apps that promise to give you a sense of serenity in a few sessions. While many people succeed (at least on the surface), just as many are discouraged from the practice. Contemplative temperaments or introverts are more inclined to meditate than extroverts, hyperactive, or anxious people. For the latter, letting their thoughts drift or focusing their attention on a particular part of their body is almost impossible. Paradoxically, as meditation has become more and more popular, it has become more and more sophisticated. And we have forgotten that meditation is simply sitting and letting yourself be.

Meditation Is Not About Putting Pressure On Yourself

When you curse yourself for not being able to meditate, it’s like picking on your child for not being able to tie his shoes, even though you never taught him to do so. It’s counterproductive and very discouraging. The key things here are patience and self-compassion. No one has ever succeeded in riding a bicycle without falling off several times. For meditation, it’s the same thing.

Meditation is not easier for some people and harder for others. It’s just a matter of practice, dedication, and persistence. Not turning into a Buddha in 1 week doesn’t mean it’s not for you or that you’ll never get there! You just need to give yourself time – and like everything else, once you get into it, it will become addictive.

Meditation Is Not About Escaping Reality And Numbing All Sensations

f you have already practiced concentration or observation, you have developed an ability to stand back and be much less affected by external events. Great! This is an important step. Except that this ability can be used to do what we have been conditioned to do for a very long time: escape from unpleasant sensations.
You may then meditate to avoid feeling certain emotions that bother you or simply to stop being caught up in the challenges of life. There is nothing wrong with distancing yourself from the fluff, from lies, or things that don’t really matter that much. But if you strongly feel that something is not right, it may be because… something is not right.

A true meditation process is not about running away, it is about helping you to fully experience what is there, in the moment, and to understand its reality. So if you are desperately trying to practice and are not getting any results, it may simply be because you are trying not to feel what is appearing and wanting to be released. It might be scary, but it’s so worth it once you get through it. You get lighter and happier. At Yogilab, we can offer you the right guidance and support for exactly this. Join one of our free, monthly, online Vipassana retreats and learn to see your habit patterns and traumas for what they really are.

Meditation Is Not About Feeling Blissful All The Time

You have meditated and feel good? Keep meditating! A typical mistake when meditating is to believe that you have achieved your goal once you have reached a state of well-being. If you are meditating just to make yourself feel good, that’s fine to a certain extend. But you have to be careful because that well-being you feel can become a trap. The more you are going to feel good when you meditate, the more likely you are to meditate to seek that good feeling. This amplifies the duality of “good” and “bad” that we believe is not real. It’s a creation of society to keep us under control, and it generates suffering. Learning to observe well-being in the same way that we observe ill-being allows us to dismantle this loop.

Meditating At Fixed Times Doesn’t Limit Your Freedom

When you first start meditating, you manage to set aside time once or several times a day to meditate. But soon enough, daily activities take over and many people realize that they have forgotten to meditate. To make sure you don’t lose the rhythm, you need to make this new practice part of your daily routine. The best time to do this is when you wake up and the day has not yet started. Gradually it will become a habit and you will be sure to have meditated at least once a day.

The Length Of The Meditation Doesn’t Always Indicate It’s Quality

If you meditate without using a timer, you will stop when you get bored, tired, or overwhelmed. But that’s when the practice becomes interesting. When you decide to sit down to practice, it is to do it all the way through. The question is how long. When you are a beginner, it is not always easy to meditate for more than 10 minutes. If you set yourself 2-hour sessions at the outset, you may not be able to stick to them, which can be a source of frustration. Sit or lie down and focus on your breathing, a visual cue, a feeling. Start with a short but good session, rather than feeling guilty about not reaching your goal. Once you are stable and comfortable with small sessions, you will naturally and gradually increase over time.

Solutions For Physical Pain During Meditation

Posture is important for an alert and relaxed mind. This is acquired and perfected through practice. If you feel discouraged, it is probably because the physical tensions are becoming unbearable and it is impossible for you to be relaxed. The only thing that keeps running through your mind is your hurting back, your aching knees, and your itchy forehead. The pain that can be the most disturbing is the first one: the back pain.

If you have back pain while meditating, there are two possible scenarios. Your spine is either too arched or too slumped. If you are more arched than normal, the muscles become rigid, too tense and the mind is more likely to become agitated. Conversely, if you are slouched, with your hands sliding down in front of your knees and your chin drooping, it is difficult to feel present and alert.

How do you align the spine for meditation? Simply bend your entire torso slightly forward and then gently straighten up, feeling the vertebrae aligning with each other as you move upward.

A Good Alternative Is To Sit In A Chair

woman-sitting-in-a-leather-tub-chair-meditating-in-2021-09-02-14-39-48-utc (1)-min

There are many reasons why you may want to meditate in a chair. For those who have joint pain, it puts less strain on the knees. It is also more convenient when you are on the move. We all have access to a chair! If you use a chair, resist the temptation to lean too much on the back. Unless, of course, you need to. The back may become soft, breathing will be slower and more constricted, and eventually, distraction and discomfort may set in. Lastly, make sure you keep your feet flat on the floor. If the chair is too high, feel free to place something under your feet.

  • Meditation benches allow you to sit in a relaxed kneeling position, while remaining upright.
  • The rectangular cushion, or gomden, is useful for sitting cross-legged. Different heights and levels of firmness are possible.
  • The round cushion, or zafu, allows you to sit cross-legged with your hips higher than your knees. If you want to sit on your knees, place the zafu under your pelvis.

In meditation, there are three sanctuaries: the teacher, the teaching, and the group. The teacher is the one who transmits. The teaching is found in books and online, but mostly in the head of the teacher who is transmitting to you the knowledge that you need at this particular moment. The group is the fact of practicing with other people who are on the same path. Yogilab’s mission is to create a community of over 80 million mediators to bring about the Maharishi effect. This phenomenon coined by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is simple: if a large number of people join together to meditate at the same time, the crime rate drops, and the economy is boosted in that area. And this can be achieved at the global level if 1% of the population meditates together. And this 1% is 80 million people.

Yogilab’s primary goal in creating a community of mediators is to create quality support for each and every person who chooses this path. David Hans-Barker, the founder of Yogilab and The Istana meditation center in Bali, answers your questions about meditation every Monday. He also hosts our free online Vipassana meditation retreats every month. During 10 days, you will learn the right meditation techniques and the mistakes not to make and will have the opportunity to ask questions live.

having trouble meditating?

The number of people who give up meditation is no less than the number of those who praise its virtues. They come to the conclusion that they have tried and it’s not something that works for them. They might be disappointed, and sometimes become bitter. So to taste the benefits of this practice, maybe it is necessary to forget the things you have been told to do, and choose the path of simplicity.

Meditation is a tool. Use it when as such, and as many times as necessary, until you have found your natural state of freedom. How do you know when you have reached this state? It is both very simple and paradoxical: this state is reached when there is no state to reach. Not because you have made it, but because you are no longer trying to go somewhere. When you are free, you don’t try to run away anymore.

Yogilab guides you through some of the most common mistakes that can be made when you are engaging in a meditation practice.

There is no obligation to practice meditation. But what a great disservice you would do to yourself if you missed out on the benefits of meditation that can be:

  • Regulation of emotions
  • Gaining distance and perspective
  • Mental clarity
  • Increased concentration
  • A sense of grounding

There are plenty of books, audio guides, and apps that promise to give you a sense of serenity in a few sessions. While many people succeed (at least on the surface), just as many are discouraged from the practice. Contemplative temperaments or introverts are more inclined to meditate than extroverts, hyperactive, or anxious people. For the latter, letting their thoughts drift or focusing their attention on a particular part of their body is almost impossible.

Paradoxically, as meditation has become more and more popular, it has become more and more sophisticated. And we have forgotten that meditation is simply sitting and letting yourself be. There are a lot of misconceptions and preconceived ideas about meditation. Let’s debunk some of them.

Meditation is not about stopping to think but watching yourself think

There’s a big difference here. It is impossible to give up thinking. We have between 60,000 and 80,000 thoughts every day. To stop thinking is like stopping breathing. When you manage to do it, you are usually dead.

The objective of meditation is to observe what is going on inside you and notice that you are often running on autopilot. We allow ourselves to be carried away by toxic thoughts that are of little use to us, except to disconnect from the present moment. Either we ruminate on the past or we worry about the future. In both cases, we are rarely in the present moment – the only moment that really exists and matters!

To meditate is to take a break from the outside noise and internal turmoil, and stop projecting your awareness into illusions but get in touch with reality instead. The idea is to learn to be with yourself, placing your mind where your body is, and not letting your thoughts and emotions take control of who you are.

Meditation is not about putting pressure on yourself

When you curse yourself for not being able to meditate, it’s like picking on your child for not being able to tie his shoes, even though you never taught him to do so. It’s counterproductive and very discouraging. The key things here are patience and self-compassion. No one has ever succeeded in riding a bicycle without falling off several times. For meditation, it’s the same thing.

Meditation is not easier for some people and harder for others. It’s just a matter of practice, dedication, and persistence. Not turning into a Buddha in 1 week doesn’t mean it’s not for you or that you’ll never get there! You just need to give yourself time – and like everything else, once you get into it, it will become addictive.

Meditation is not about escaping reality and numbing all sensations

If you have already practiced concentration or observation, you have developed an ability to stand back and be much less affected by external events. Great! This is an important step. Except that this ability can be used to do what we have been conditioned to do for a very long time: escape from unpleasant sensations.
You may then meditate to avoid feeling certain emotions that bother you or simply to stop being caught up in the challenges of life. There is nothing wrong with distancing yourself from the fluff, from lies, or things that don’t really matter that much. But if you strongly feel that something is not right, it may be because… something is not right.

A true meditation process is not about running away, it is about helping you to fully experience what is there, in the moment, and to understand its reality. So if you are desperately trying to practice and are not getting any results, it may simply be because you are trying not to feel what is appearing and wanting to be released. It might be scary, but it’s so worth it once you get through it. You get lighter and happier. At Yogilab, we can offer you the right guidance and support for exactly this. Join one of our free, monthly, online Vipassana retreats and learn to see your habit patterns and traumas for what they really are.

Meditation is not about feeling blissful all the time

You have meditated and feel good? Keep meditating! A typical mistake when meditating is to believe that you have achieved your goal once you have reached a state of well-being. If you are meditating just to make yourself feel good, that’s fine to a certain extend. But you have to be careful because that well-being you feel can become a trap.

The more you are going to feel good when you meditate, the more likely you are to meditate to seek that good feeling. This amplifies the duality of “good” and “bad” that we believe is not real. It’s a creation of society to keep us under control, and it generates suffering. Learning to observe well-being in the same way that we observe ill-being allows us to dismantle this loop.

Meditating at fixed times does not limit your freedom

When you first start meditating, you manage to set aside time once or several times a day to meditate. But soon enough, daily activities take over and many people realize that they have forgotten to meditate. To make sure you don’t lose the rhythm, you need to make this new practice part of your daily routine. The best time to do this is when you wake up and the day has not yet started. Gradually it will become a habit and you will be sure to have meditated at least once a day.

The length of the meditation does not always indicate its quality

If you meditate without using a timer, you will stop when you get bored, tired, or overwhelmed. But that’s when the practice becomes interesting. When you decide to sit down to practice, it is to do it all the way through. The question is how long.

When you are a beginner, it is not always easy to meditate for more than 10 minutes. If you set yourself 2-hour sessions at the outset, you may not be able to stick to them, which can be a source of frustration.

Sit or lie down and focus on your breathing, a visual cue, a feeling. Start with a short but good session, rather than feeling guilty about not reaching your goal. Once you are stable and comfortable with small sessions, you will naturally and gradually increase over time.

Solutions for physical pain during meditation

Posture is important for an alert and relaxed mind. This is acquired and perfected through practice. If you feel discouraged, it is probably because the physical tensions are becoming unbearable and it is impossible for you to be relaxed. The only thing that keeps running through your mind is your hurting back, your aching knees, and your itchy forehead. The pain that can be the most disturbing is the first one: the back pain.

If you have back pain while meditating, there are two possible scenarios. Your spine is either too arched or too slumped. If you are more arched than normal, the muscles become rigid, too tense and the mind is more likely to become agitated. Conversely, if you are slouched, with your hands sliding down in front of your knees and your chin drooping, it is difficult to feel present and alert.

How do you align the spine for meditation? Simply bend your entire torso slightly forward and then gently straighten up, feeling the vertebrae aligning with each other as you move upward.

Solutions for physical pain during meditation

A good alternative is to sit in a chair

There are many reasons why you may want to meditate in a chair. For those who have joint pain, it puts less strain on the knees. It is also more convenient when you are on the move. We all have access to a chair!

If you use a chair, resist the temptation to lean too much on the back. Unless, of course, you need to. The back may become soft, breathing will be slower and more constricted, and eventually, distraction and discomfort may set in. Lastly, make sure you keep your feet flat on the floor. If the chair is too high, feel free to place something under your feet.

Other seating options

  • Meditation benches allow you to sit in a relaxed kneeling position, while remaining upright.
  • The rectangular cushion, or gomden, is useful for sitting cross-legged. Different heights and levels of firmness are possible.
  • The round cushion, or zafu, allows you to sit cross-legged with your hips higher than your knees. If you want to sit on your knees, place the zafu under your pelvis.

Yogilab’s primary goal in creating a community of mediators is to create quality support for each and every person who chooses this path. David Hans-Barker, the founder of Yogilab and The Istana meditation center in Bali, answers your questions about meditation every Monday. He also hosts our free online Vipassana meditation retreats every month. During 10 days, you will learn the right meditation techniques and the mistakes not to make and will have the opportunity to ask questions live.

woman-sitting-in-a-leather-tub-chair-meditating-in-2021-09-02-14-39-48-utc (1)-min

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