What can we do when we feel we can’t meditate?

A student writes:

What should I do when I feel can’t meditate?

Lama Shenpen’s response:

I think we tend to say this when we feel disturbed and upset about something or are depressed and have low energy.

Or it could be because we feel overexcited and distracted or sometimes just guilty. It can be a sense of: ‘I should want to meditate and I don’t want to and I am avoiding it by busying myself with everything and anything except going to my cushion and giving myself the time to meditate’.

I think sometimes people associate trying to meditate with constant failure. All these feelings are mandala guardians * trying to keep you out of your meditation mandala by throwing up a smoke screen of excuses. 

The way around this is to simply go to your meditation cushion and just sit there quietly for a while and see what happens. What you actually want to do or need to do will arise out of the gap that was created by your simply going to the cushion. 

Alternatively, you can just sit where you are. Time a minute in which you simply stop what you have been doing and notice what a difference stopping for a minute makes, notice what is going on. Then perhaps try two minutes and so on, just in a relaxed way.

Just staring out of the window or being aware of your breathing or sensations or not even doing that particularly, just making a gap or space.

And perhaps notice what you are feeling right now – just noticing.  It can already make a difference.

Lama Shenpen Hookham

*Mandala guardians is a term used in the Awakened Heart Sangha it is explained fully the course book ‘Mandala Principle’. For a brief introduction to the theme Mandala Principle click here.

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