Meditation Struggles

This article is part of the Claudia Confidentially series.

Dear Claudia,

Why is it that the thing I need to do the most is meditate – but it is also the thing I do the least? Sometimes, I actually wonder if I should just let go of it – is there a way I can stop torturing myself with "shoulds?"


Dear Adam,

Please don’t let go of your call to meditate – don’t give up on yourself. You might even feel like a failure if you do.

Here’s a tip for how you can stop torturing yourself:

Think of your "should" as a spiritual bell calling you to practice. Even when you can’t answer that bell, know that it keeps you connected to what matters and is good. Even guilt keeps us connected – it’s okay.

Let Your Feelings Fuel You

There are other feelings I want you to tolerate and not throw away, too:

  • Restlessness or impatience
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Sadness

These feelings typically hijack our discipline, but if we are prepared, they can also drive and even fuel our practice.

If you’re sad, perhaps you can do a crying meditation in the shower as you feel the water cascading down on you.

To do a meditation on anger, you could use some qi gong movements combined with breath to match the energies.

Maybe you could do a meditation on tension, allowing the sensations to course through you as you count repeatedly to ten, or try controlling your in and out breath.

Walking meditations work well if you feel restless or impatient, and even just counting to twenty has remarkable results for activating the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which makes it possible for your body to relax.

If thinking about meditating calls forth guilt and shame, those are the feelings you could meditate on. Let them take you places.

Feeling Bad Sometimes Is Normal

But sometimes, even the best strategies fail to lead us to discipline.

Sometimes, we have to exist in places that are totally devoid of self-acceptance – I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t spent some time feeling bad about themselves, for whatever reason, for whatever cause, for however long.

We are here to evolve, not solve.

So if that is all true for you, don’t give up on thinking about doing good things for yourself. Wait until your energies inevitably shift; eventually, when the bell rings calling you to meditate, you will.

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