We’ve already covered a lot in this series.
In the first post of the series (101 Proven Tips for Powerful Meditation!), we discussed different tips to use in your formal practice of meditation for ease and efficiency.
In the second post (101 Proven Tips for Powerful Meditation (Part 2)) we discussed how to have more powerful meditative experiences throughout your life.
In the third post (101 Proven Tips for Powerful Meditation (Part 3)) we expanded on some classic wisdom (keep doing what works), and how to apply it in your practice.
Throughout all these posts, I’ve mentioned using meditation as a means to experience energy oneness, and other ‘metaphysical’ or ‘mystic’ states of consciousness.
and there are several posts on relaxation coming up soon… but today, we’re going to talk about…
… the challenges that arise in life and meditation!
Meditation Master Key 4:
Find Out What Doesn’t Work, and Respond Appropriately!
In this, we are still following some wisdom from NLP (as well as other places)… Pay attention to feedback!
Now there are a lot of uncomfortable situations that can arise in life and in meditation… and although I always encourage you to face your challenges, it is sometimes important to just let it go and move in a different direction as well.
Sometimes it will be appropriate to further investigate what comes up in and around your challenges in meditation and in life.
Other times, it will serve you best to simply keep working what works.
It is important to recognize that insights can arise any time you pay attention to yourself… whether you are experiencing pleasant emotions or challenging ones… but, in my experience, the insights that arise from the challenges can be much more transformational throughout your life… and frequently, they come up much more quickly.
So when you meditate, you can work with challenges that arise in meditation, challenges that arise in daily life, or you can simply abide in pure awareness!
Keep in mind that I am primarily working with physical sensations in this article… but many of these same principles can be applied to internal images, or internal sounds as well.
Meditation Tip 41: Recognize where your challenges are, particularly discomfort. As you meditate, you will want to be mindful of physical and emotional sensations that arise… the two are frequently related. If anything seems particularly difficult, or if it comes up again and again… notice it… Pay Attention! This goes for the rest of your life as well. When something is particularly challenging or painful, or the same pain continues to arise again and again… you are being fed important feedback, and it is critical that you pay attention. There are many methods to work with these discomforts/challenges, but you can’t work with them if you aren’t aware of them… recognizing them is the first step.
Meditation Tip 42: Be Specific about the discomfort or challenge. Find the specific area in your meditation or your life that the pain, discomfort, or challenge arises. Is it only when you sit in a certain posture? Is it only with a certain style of meditation? Is it only at work? Is it only with relationships? Is it only in your relationship with one person? Does it only happen after a certain amount of time? In order to work with your discomfort, it is important to be able to specifically recognize where and when it arises.
Meditation Tip 43: Focus in directly on the discomfort. Simply pay attention to the exact area where the physical sensations arise. If they change or grow… pay attention. If they get more or less intense… pay attention. If they move, flow, or follow a pattern… pay attention. Be accepting. Be allowing. Keep your awareness directly on the feelings… if it drifts, gently bring it back.
Meditation Tip 44: Focus in the general area of the discomfort. This and the next several tips (Tip 44 – Tip 47) are most useful when it is too difficult or uncomfortable to use Tip 43. These are all ways of working with the feeling at an easier level of intensity. If focusing directly on the discomfort is too challenging, you can broaden your focus area a little bit. If there is discomfort in your lower back, broaden your focus to include your hips and your upper back. Just notice the whole area, and keep your attention there as you accept and relax around the feelings.
Meditation Tip 45: Focus on just the edges of the discomfort. Another good way to handle the intensity, is to just focus on the very edges of the sensation. Maybe just the outer 1 inch around the entire area of discomfort… or you could focus on one single spot near the edge of the discomfort. This one lends itself well to progression, because when you are ready, you can just focus on a little more of the challenge/discomfort. When you keep adding back in a little bit at a time, you will eventually be back to focusing on the whole feeling at once.
Meditation Tip 46: Focus somewhere else entirely, temporarily. Sometimes when feelings are really intense, difficult, or challenging, they can be almost overwhelming. If a feeling seems to be this way in life, or in formal meditation, you can pay attention to something else for a little while, and then come back to it when you feel relaxed enough to accept it a little bit more. This is truly powerful for people that use terms like “depressed” or “stuck” for themselves… this practice allows you to truly put your feelings back under your control. Watch a funny movie, or listen to some music you love for a while… and when you feel wonderful, you will be able to bring a whole new perspective to your meditation, and to what you used to call “problems”.
Meditation Tip 47: Shift your focus back and forth. This is a very useful practice for intense feelings. It takes the previous tip a step further. You can shift away from the sensations if they are too intense… and then shift back to them and relax a little more around them… let them flow a bit more… then, if necessary, you can focus away again. Moving back and forth like this can drastically increase your ability to handle the challenge or discomfort… and it can also allow you to deepen your relaxation in and around the discomfort a little more each time.
Meditation Tip 48: Notice how often the challenge arises. An important element in deciding which challenges are worthy of your meditation, is just paying attention to how frequently they come up. A challenging emotion or feeling that you deal with less often, is frequently of secondary concern. That isn’t to say you can’t work with it… and occasionally their are real jewels of wisdom hidden in these obscure emotions or discomforts. Generally speaking, though, you will want to spend more of your focus and your time unraveling the feelings/sensations that arise frequently in your life.
Meditation Tip 49: Get a second opinion. Friends truly are priceless… for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it is difficult to get perspective on our inner voyage. It is wonderful to have a study group, meditation group, or meditation partner to share your experiences with. You will benefit the most from discussing this with someone who has similar goals and techniques, but sometimes Zen wisdom will come pouring out of the mouth of someone who has never meditated a day in their life. Again, pay attention! Be open to what others have to offer. The truly Wise can find their wisdom anywhere. When another person offers their perspective on your challenge, do your best to step into their shoes and see the situation through their eyes. When they are finished, imagine for a moment that you are a 3rd party absorbing the wisdom of your experience and other points of view… this is a very valuable way to transform your understanding of life, self, and others.
Meditation Tip 50: Play with the sensation! I saved this one for a while because it is important to always pay attention to what is arising (without conscious interference) first. If you don’t first pay attention to what arises and accept it… you will miss out on valuable opportunity for insight. Once you have that gentle accepting awareness in and around the sensation… it can be very fun and useful to play with the feeling in a gentle and relaxed way. If it is in one location, see if you can move it. See if you can turn up or turn down the intensity (just like volume on a television). If it flows in a given path or direction, see what happens when you reverse the flow. When playing with the sensation, notice how your changes affect the sensation and your experience around it. Does it seem different now? Does it want to go back to where it was, or does it enjoy doing something different? Have fun… they are your sensations after all, and you might as well enjoy them!
Meditation Tip 51: Recognize all human claims are relative! (including this one) This tip is crucial, and it is broad enough that it could be the basis for an entire series of posts. Almost anytime someone states something as if it applies universally or all the time… they are leaving out a lot of information. A classic example for meditation, is the approach of doing lots of practices or exercises for enlightenment vs the approach of recognizing you are enlightened already. Both philosophies are useful, and both have there challenges. Being a strict adherent to either side can make your long term progress much more challenging. One of the best known NLP, Hypnosis, & Huna trainers in the world, Tad James, likes to say “All generalizations are lies… including this one.” When you feel more comfortable wrapping your head around paradoxes like this, you will be less sucked in to propaganda from others. When you are less impressed with the B.S. of others, you can much more easily let go of your own.
Meditation Tip 52: Pay attention to intuition. Paying attention to the sensations in your body is a very valuable way to begin building your intuition. Be able to relax and let go of the way you want things to be (at least temporarily) will be an invaluable aid in this. This is a powerful area of exploration! Once you begin to notice this intuition it will act as an excellent guide for where to direct your attention. The next two tips expand on developing intuition a bit further.
Meditation Tip 53: Filter out imagination. Let me be clear. Imagination is a wonderful thing! A love and enjoy my own imagination, and I encourage everyone to get in touch with and have a great time with their own imagination, as well. Having said that, it is very valuable to be able to distinguish your imagination from your intuition. Your imagination is often powered by your desires and your fears… so if you can balance or let go of these (at least temporarily), you can focus in on the sensations in the body that are just naturally arising… and therefore learn to much more effectively develop your intuition.
Meditation Tip 54: Go with your gut. Once you have developed your intuition, listen to it! This may seem obvious, but I can tell you from my own experience, as well as working with other people… too often we do exactly what we know we shouldn’t. There are always reasons… but once you have developed even a little bit of intuition, you may as well use it! Let go of the excuses… Listen to your gut… or simply pay attention when any other form of intuition arises.
Meditation Tip 55: Move on to something useful! If all this focus on challenges or discomfort doesn’t seem fruitful (it is useful to spend some time on it before deciding)… then after you have taken some time to acknowledge it and accept it, you can always just move on to something else. Be sure to accept it first! If you haven’t accepted it, it will eventually come back. But after you have accepted it, you can choose to put your awareness back on your goals or something you just enjoy… in formal meditation or wherever else in your life.
Meditation Tip 56: Re-read 101 Proven Tips for Powerful Meditation (part 3). This is just to take Tip 55 a little bit further. It is crucial that you spend the majority of your time in focusing on your outcome, or doing a process that works well for you. It is very useful to play with the different tips/techniques in this article as well… but I encourage you to put this article as a useful alternative to part 3. Focusing on and working with your challenges, can remove real roadblocks from your path… and it can free up a lot of energy in your life… which you can use for whatever you like. But if you spend the majority of your time finding and examining difficulties… your brilliant subconscious mind will always find more difficulties and challenges for you. If you spend the majority of your time relaxing into flow and enjoying what works… your brilliant subconscious mind will continue to provide more flow, pleasure, and success!
And that sums a significant piece of this series up nicely.
Focus on your challenges as you need to…
Focus on your successes because you love to!