I think this link can be important for both meditators and meditation teachers.
It describes a study done on high school science students. One group was told of the many important scientific breakthroughs of Albert Einstein. A second group was told of Einstein’s struggles in his personal life, and the third group was told of Einstein’s struggles in science.
The first group was the least successful in their study of science. Both the second and third groups did significantly better. Why? Presumably because, though they might have found science difficult to learn, the students now knew that even the great scientist Albert Einstein also found it difficult. So, they were encouraged to persist through their own difficulties.
I think most people who today have a richly satisfying meditation practice would admit that meditation has had plenty of uphill struggles.
I will share some of my experiences, and I know I’m not unique. Let me begin by saying that meditation has brought me a joy I never could have imagined – not only while I’m meditating, but also a joy that lasts throughout the day. It has brought marvelous and unexpected solutions to problems that were painful or seemingly un-solvable.
At the same time, there have been months at a time of slogging, restless, or dry meditations. But even during those periods of challenging meditations, occasionally a meditation would come that was so filled with joy I would think: It’s all worth it! I don’t care how long I have to slog, just to have one experience like this.
Swami Kriyananda once said: “Let’s face it. In the beginning, meditation is not all that enjoyable.”
We have to remember that we are used to the easy, albeit temporary thrills of outer stimulation, and in meditation we are trying to redirect our attention inward to a more subtle, though infinitely more enjoyable and satisfying realm. In the beginning we don’t know where we’re going. And we’re trying to discipline a mind used to roaming totally at its own whims.
If you add one drop of red food coloring to 5 gallons of water, you will see no change. If you continue to add one drop at a time, you will add for quite a while without seeing a change. But at a certain point you will begin to see the effects of the color, and that color will persist.
In each meditation in our early days, we seem to see no change whatsoever. In fact, there will be plenty of days when our ability to meditate seems to be moving backwards. But it does not take too long to notice changes in how we feel throughout the day, how we respond to people and circumstances, or even changes in physical health. Greater calmness and happiness begin to fill us. This is a common early experience of meditation. Your daily meditations may still seem restless, but you begin to feel greater clarity and peace when you leave your practice.
And sometimes, even from my earliest months of meditation, there were significant moments of connection with God that I still remember.
Whoever you are, however restless your mind seems—truly, you are not unique. Everyone has to struggle. In future blogs, I’ll share some tips that can help you.
For now: Carve out a little time in your day (5–20 minutes) for a daily practice. Choose a place where you can meditate. And most importantly, learn a technique, such as the Hong-Sau Technique, to help you focus your mind.
Don’t look for results. Don’t look for increasing peace. Just persist and know that the results WILL come—as they have come for me and for all of us willing to keep trying.