Why you’re not alone if you think meditation is really hard


Live Well Age Well

By Elizabeth Devereux

"If your mind is expansive and unfettered, you will find yourself in a more accommodating world,
a place that's endlessly interesting and alive. That quality isn't inherent in the place but in your state of mind."

                                                                                                                              Pema Chödrön

  Elizabeth Devereux
  Elizabeth Devereux

If you’ve ever tried to meditate and found it incredibly challenging, almost impossible at times, read on.

Maybe you’ve heard or read descriptions of meditation comparing it to the luxurious experience of sitting on a sunny beach with a warm breeze, sipping a pina colada, relaxing to the soothing sound of the waves. Most who meditate or those who have tried would say, “Yeah, right.”

I’ll never forget a pivotal, liberating moment for me; it came during a conference at my alma mater, Kripalu, when I heard one of my favorite teachers, Anne Cushman, say with perversely accurate humor, “Meditation can often feel like being locked in a closet with a lunatic with a megaphone.”

It was all too easy to imagine someone so brilliantly spiritual, yet successfully earthbound, as she experienced only neatly wrapped, civilized difficulties while meditating … not the shameful, gnarly, unruly kind.

The great news of Anne’s irreverent declaration: Whatever our unique lunatic perils of consciousness, it’s all workable.

We could use a gardening metaphor, especially starting out and even as we continue throughout our lifetimes: The soil of our minds, hearts, bodies and souls have widely varying and ever-changing, ongoing needs for clearing … enriching … maintaining … expanding.

Often when we sit down to meditate, we encounter a lifetime of unaddressed unconscious habits and material that can feel like kudzu: an underlying roaming, invasive, hard-to-manage, even noxious, something that’s vying for our attention, overrunning our ability to be relaxed, present, focused, equal-minded and at-choice.

While meditating, it’s common to fall asleep, get bored or anxious or feel confronted: an “I can’t do this/I don’t get this/I don’t like this” experience. We may suddenly and unexplainably get the urge to dust the molding, do anything but this, as if we’ve hit huge boulders, roots or stumps in what we had hoped would be the easy-to-till soil of our mindfulness gardens.

In the next few articles, we’ll examine awareness-raising practices and transformational technologies as skillful means to clear, enrich, maintain and expand our field of consciousness, cultivate a life that feels richer, more fruitful.

In the meantime, ask yourself: How does your mind-heart-body-soul garden grow? We require different approaches in different seasons of our lives.

Many people find it easier to meditate in a group with a guide. For those wishing to explore this possibility, a series is being offered at the Fitness Center: Mindfulness Meditation for Everybody. There are two sessions, Sept. 8 through Oct. 27 and Nov. 3 through Dec. 22. Each session consists of eight Sundays, 4:15-5:15 p.m. There is a $40 fee for each 8-week session or a $10 drop-in fee per class for Fitness Center members and nonmembers alike.

Elizabeth Devereux’s work is a vibrant, transformative fusion of tools and processes for greater health, joy and possibility. She is well-known for her openheartedness and keen ability to distill, synthesize and communicate ancient wisdoms and modern consciousness paradigms in a fun, relatable, effective way. Find out more at PeaceOnEarthINC.com.

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