In case you do not have a meditation practice in place yet and dislike the idea of extended periods of regular meditation, this article may help you understand why and how you can fix it.
|Blissful, transformative states can be achieved by meditation.
Meditation is in essence the practice of ever-deepening concentration on a subtle part of experience. This can be the breath, a mantra, a bodily sensation, even a question or consciousness/awareness itself. You may have experimented with different meditations only to find your mind wandering and thinking about what you want to do if you get away from this meditation. Maybe your body was aching and you were distracted by pain. Let me tell you, all of this is also going on in seasoned meditators and still, for them, meditation can be the most delightful activity of their life.
What is the difference in their practice? And why do they naturally come back to this practice over and over again? What are they doing differently that makes it so enjoyable?
The answer is quite simple and may be surprising. It is not about making the position more comfortable or choosing the right object of concentration, changing around mantras, techniques, etc. The critical step in making a meditation practice enjoyable is to make it harder and more challenging. Your meditation practice has to be so challenging that you cannot let your mind wander and lose its awareness of the present moment.
How can you make a concentration practice challenging? By becoming engaged with the present moment to the point where 100% of your concentration and focus is right on the subject. If you observe your breath, you are so focused, you notice every distracting thought the split second it arises. And you let it go. Every distracting sensation, you observe from its very origin. You let go of all of it because your only goal is to be as mindful and aware as possible. You follow down this path of pure concentration with laser-like focus. Like an artist performing life, who cannot be distracted for a single second.
In meditation, it's even less time than that. Your goal should be not be distracted for 1/1000 of a second. For example, a recommended practice for beginners is to focus on the breath. And sometimes even count to ten, to not lose focus and become absorbed in thought. I would argue this is too easy and not actual awareness of the present moment. With this practice, it is easy to "meditate" on the concept of the breath.
Yes, you are focused, but not on the actual sensation of the breath but with your concept of the breath. You focus on the thought "in-breath", "out-breath"... but you are aware only very shortly at the onset of each change from "in" to "out". With true focus, you would split up every in-breath into sensations that last 1ms, and focus on that, dropping the whole concept that what you experience is part of breathing.
With increasing ability to focus, you can make the present moment infinitely small, and forget about all concepts surrounding it. When you do that, every 1/1000 of a second, becomes completely new, unknown, in fact unknowable and absolutely blissful. When you connect to this, you will have found your bliss in meditation and become hooked. In this tiniest fraction, that is the actual now, all concepts are gone. There is no you here, there are no problems, no concerns, only pure delightful beingness.
Often times we approach our meditation practice with an attitude of relaxation. But this will only make it harder. We will enjoy our meditation less. The counter-intuitive step is to go at it hard. With the rock-solid commitment to not let go of concentration for a single second and actually focus on the now with ever-increasing clarity, that it becomes infinitely short and infinitely everything at the same time. Meditate like this and you will be blissfully surprised by the places it takes you.