How can we engage in meditation if we experience low energy?

A student writes:

Sometimes I struggle to engage with meditation when my energy feels low. Do you have any suggestions on how to work with this?

Lama Shenpen’s responds: 

When our energy is low it can help to sit for shorter sessions, as short as a minute or two sometimes.  This way you can keep up a sense of inspiration and enthusiasm – something to look forward to. Just stop what you are doing and notice what happens as you take the pressure off ‘doing’ even if for a short while – and feeling kind towards yourself struggling to somehow be more awake.

When we are doing group practice there is a kind of pressure there to try to sit for an hour at a time. When we are in good form an hour is not a long time to sit but if we keep trying to sit for an hour when we are just struggling the whole time it can be a bit counter-productive.

It is possible to break your hour’s sitting into five minute sessions with just ‘sitting quietly’ in between and/or breaking off for walking meditation, which tends to be less intense somehow even if one’s attention is wandering a lot as you walk.

Personally, I find myself in the happy situation where sitting in meditation often revitalises me, my energy tends to bounce back. So telling myself I am just going to sit for a short while often ends up with my sitting a long while and feeling energised by that! 

I think it is very important when our energy is low not to drain our energy more by feeling bad about ourselves and chastising ourselves for not doing better or doing more, or comparing ourselves unfavourably with others or with our past performance. Instead, we can train ourselves in rejoicing at any good we do and in the good done by others and even our ability to rejoice in the good done by others.

All this cuts through our ego-mandala clinging to false ideas about ourselves.  So rejoice – acknowledge, align, honour and celebrate.  Make pranidhanas and remember that kshanti (forbearance) is a powerful form of Dharma practice.

Lama Shenpen Hookham

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