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Lions Roar : May 2017
Meditation is enlightening, but wherever you find light, you will find shadow—and the brighter the light, the darker the shadow. Every meditator has to deal with obstacles and shadow ele- ments, but with proper guidance these obstacles can be trans- formed into opportunities. Meditation is nuanced, and it can take years to understand what the obstacles are and how they can be used as opportunities. So be patient, look deeper, and never be shy to ask for help. Here are a few of the most com- mon obstacles and some advice on how to handle them. Self-Criticism Many beginners unwittingly use their definition of what medita- tion is to criticize themselves. They get discouraged or quit—not because their meditation is off, but because their definition is. A student told me, “I suck at meditation.” After chatting with him, I realized his meditation was fine. It was his definition that sucked. He didn’t realize that highs and lows and everything in between are all part of healthy practice. Agitation Every practitioner bounces between the extremes of drowsiness and excitation. The immediate remedy is to abide in the “mid- dle way,” with an attitude balanced between tight and loose. If your mind is agitated and full of thoughts, witness it with a sense of kindness, and relax your body. Thoughts are the chil- dren of your mind, even when they’re running wild. Love your mind, like your children, unconditionally. Sleepiness We associate silence and stillness with sleep, so a soggy mind is common in meditation. If you’re starting to fall asleep, open your eyes. If they’re already open, raise your gaze. Take a few deep breaths and tighten your posture. I like to smile at my mushy mind, literally and figuratively. When my face smiles, my mind smiles (try it), which is another indicator of the intimate connection between body and mind. What Obstacles Will I Face? Your meditation won’t always go smoothly, and that’s part of the path. ANDREW HOLECEK looks at six common difficulties and how you can work with them. PHOTOBYA.JESSEJIRYUDAVIS