Learning to meditate correctly is important. Your mind is like a wild horse. Learn to befriend it instead of trying to break it. Here is a troubleshooting strategy for your spiritual toolbox.
Meditation Troubleshooting Strategy
Most people know meditation is good for your health. But learning to meditate correctly is a source of frustration for many people. First, we’ll discuss the most common issues with meditation.
We use an analogy to describe the mind. Imagine the mind is like a wild horse. You have two options. You can either befriend or break it.
The Most Common Issues with Meditation
Whether you are learning to meditate or someone who has been meditating for a long time, there are four issues you will probably encounter.
The four most common issues with Meditation are:
- An avalanche of thoughts and emotions
- Anxiousness am I doing it right
- The practice can become boring
- It makes you sleepy
If you have an overactive mind, you can become restless. Since we don’t normally draw our mind’s attention to the body or breath, we can experience frustration. Perhaps even difficulty breathing.
We also rarely place our attention on our posture. So, we can also notice pain here and there we didn’t realize we had. We get bored because the mind is not quiet. It is fighting against the process, this is because our Ego is not comfortable when it is not in control.
When we get sleepy during meditation, this is often a sign we need the healing rest that comes with sleep. It’s a way for your body to tell you it needs to shut down. So, don’t fight this. Instead,
If the practice involves a mantra or sutra, then besides the above the practitioner can become anxious over “doing it right,” or getting off track. There can also be external distractions, noise, temperature. Our unmet expectations drive all the above issues.
Thankfully, there is a good meditation troubleshooting strategy that can help with all these issues.
The Mind is Like a Wild Horse
The mind is a wild creature; it is curious and independent. The mind wanders and explores. But, the mind also seeks peace and comfort. These traits are things we can use to overcome most of the common roadblocks to meditation.
When something doesn’t work, we can become frustrated. This is the sign of one issue listed above. So, when this happens remember that the mind is only following its natural tendencies.
Breaking A Wild Horse
Our first option is brute force. We think we can force the mind to be calm. When you take this approach, the active mind buck and jump just like a horse. You think you can just ride break the will of the beast.
To be sure, this is the tactic used by armies to break the will of recruits. However, you aren’t trying to break the will of the mind. You want to build it up. So, we don’t suggest using the brute force approach. Just like a wild horse, it runs wild at the first opportunity. When the Ego aspect of the mental struggles, you are back to the common issues mentioned above.
The silence of meditation is something our mind needs. The Ego is that wild aspect that we need to tame with kindness and gentleness. Otherwise, it will act out to maintain the center of attention.
There is a better or gentler approach for befriending the conscious mind. Instead of forcing attention, we learn to guide it gently. This directs attention in the direction you desire.
Befriending a Wild Horse
The most effective and powerful strategies are always the best. It is the same for this meditation troubleshooting strategy for befriending the Ego aspect of the mind. This strategy works for all the common issues above.
Whenever you recognize that you are having any of the above distractions, discomforts, or issues, stop. Gently return the awareness to our body and breath from the thought, feeling, or emotion. If the issue persists, gently return the awareness to your posture and breath. Keep using gentleness and the conscious mind will respond.
Remember, the mind is like a wild horse. The easiest way to train it is with persistent gentleness, not brute force. You don’t want to break the horse (mind). Instead, you want to guide it in the direction you desire. To do this, you offer it a treat. You learn to use a mantra or sutra like a treat.
All horses like treats. Bring an apple. A won’t approach you yet. So, leave it far enough away so that the horse feels safe. Then, it will come and take the apple. The next time you come the horse will allow you to be closer. Eventually, it will take it out of your hand. Then, it will allow you to touch it and pet it. It learns you are a friend.
Use a mantra or sutra like an apple. Over time your mind, like the wild horse, will respond to your gentleness. It will respond to your gentleness and go in the direction you want it to. It will learn to follow your lead. Meditation will become very easy. When the mind understands the benefit all you need to do is set the proper intention. The mind will start the mediation process because it’s a pleasant one. Even our wild hyperactive mind will respond to this gentle approach.
If you use a Mantra, then apply it with gentleness. It’s important not to force the meditation process. Meditation needs to be easy. The mind likes smooth. And, it will naturally return to the path of least resistance. If you find yourself off track, gently return to the process. So, remember gentle. Take it easy.
Befriending a wild horse is a philosophy to help you understand how the mind works. This meditation troubleshooting strategy is one of the best practices.
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Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia