Monday, February 4, 2008

Troubleshooting the meditation challenges

As your meditation practice deepens and evolves, you may find yourself encountering unexpected challenges that you don’t quite know how to handle. Here again, the mountain metaphor comes in handy. Say you’re halfway up the trail and you hit a patch of icy terrain, or boulders block your path, or a thunderstorm sends you scurrying for cover. What do you do now? Do you pull out your special equipment and consult pre-established guidelines for dealing with the difficulties? Or do you just have to improvise as best you can?

The good news is that people have been climbing this mountain for thousands of years, and they’ve crafted tools and fashioned maps for traversing the terrain as smoothly and painlessly as possible.

For example, if powerful emotions like anger, fear, sadness, or grief sweep through your meditation and make it difficult for you to stay present, you can draw on techniques for loosening their grip. Or if you encounter some of the common obstacles and roadside distractions on the path of meditation, such as sleepiness, restlessness, rapture, or doubt, you can count on time-honored methods for moving beyond them so you can continue on your way.

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