Meditation questions

I have committed to getting into the habit of practicing meditation every day for the month of March. I find that most of my distractions come in the form of physical discomfort. My back, my neck, my hips. It doesn’t seem to matter what position I begin in, my body finds a way to distract my practice. I wondered if there were any ideas of how to work with this? Thanks.

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Hi there. I think everyone can relate to your experience. The most common challenges are physical discomfort and boredom. The way through is to feel it, stay with it, love it and move through. It’s like this with all of the stages, feelings and experiences we have in our lives. Look at it as a part of your practice, rather than a distraction. It IS your practice.

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That is very helpful. It is my practice. Love it… Okay, I will use that. Do you have a specific meditation session for pain and working with it in these ways? If not, that would be really helpful.

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We have quite a few that would help with pain. Both Jennifer (the other meditation teacher that I would recommend) and I take that approach, although we don’t always say to love what you feel. You can always add that to the meditation if you like.

I have a meditation called Heal Chronic Pain that is on the Letting Go: Guided Meditations and Relaxations album. I would also recommend that you try Yoga Nidra with Jennifer Piercy and my Guided Meditations for Stress, Anxiety and Depression (you don’t need to have anxiety to benefit from these).

Hi Katherine, good on you for committing to your practice. My teacher’s recent advice in a group meditation class was that this was one of the many ways resistance can show up in our regular practice. As David said, this isn’t separate to your practice, it IS your practice. Everything that comes up in meditation (and yoga, for that matter) is part of your practice. David said it perfectly “feel it, stay with it, love it and move through”. You will find this loosens up with time if you stick with it.

Well, I was trained by the British Wheel of Yoga which follows more of a Classical route than many other training providers. Thus from the very beginning I have known that the asanas and the breathing practices are a prelude or a warm up to the meditation or Raja yoga.

The idea being that you go from the gross to the ever more subtle. So you begin by moving and directing your body (asana), then you learn about the breath (pranayama). From there you combine the two and after a while you (hopefully) have a supple body that moves in union with your breath. When you reach that point you are ready for meditation.

So the next time you want to meditate, do a few asanas and after that do some nadi shodhana. Then come into a suitable pose for sitting for the next say 10 minutes get the technique right first, then you can lengthen the practice.

The you start to watch the breath - that is all. Watch it coming and watch it going. Notice if it is fast/slow/shallow/deep/whatever but don’t control it, let it be just as it is. If thoughts come along just stick a label on them “thinking” and then go back to the breath.

The next step if you can manage it - is to imagine yourself taking a step back from the breath so that what you are doing is “watching the mind watching the breath”.

That last step is the trickiest because you do not want to THINK about watching the mind watching the breath. What you want at that point is transcendence BUT it is an experience and nobody can teach it to you. When you can do it it is indescribable and your asanas and pranayama take a backseat after that because it dawns on you that this is what all the other stuff has been preparing you for.

If you still experience difficulty the best advice I can offer is to go along to a Buddhist centre and get instruction from them for a few lessons. They start with Raja yoga after all!

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