Why are meditation and mindfulness not working for me? I tried meditation to help me sleep, by stopping my thoughts. But when I try to focus on my breath, my mind refuses to relax. After a short time I get angry and just give up. Can you help?
It is very upsetting. I understand. But there is hope…
Giving up is the beginning of wisdom. The error is in trying to focus on your breath. This has nothing to do with mindfulness or meditation. Meditation and mindfulness are words for natural awareness, present to whatever is happening. So by simply presencing what you say is happening, including:
- The thought that you cannot sleep,
- The effort to practice what you (mistakenly) believe to be something your heard is called mindfulness,
- The desire to quieten your thoughts,
- The belief that it is night (and by implication you should be asleep),
- The sensation of trying to focus on your breath,
- The idea of your mind acting like a wild animal being locked up,
- The sensation of fighting,
- The anger (an emotion),
- The feelings of frustration, capitulation and despair,
natural meditation occurs effortlessly.
Here is a suggestion for an exercise which may be more successful.
First, do not try to sleep. Try to stay awake (yes, I am aware this sound crazy).
Make a decision to be fully awake and aware of the precise moment when the transition occurs to the sleep state. This moment always occurs, but usually you are unaware of it, so that it passes without being of any use to you. This time, stay fully aware of each moment and what is happening. Keep your eyes open naturally, get comfortable on your bed, notice the shadows and lights of the room, maybe sounds from the street, your bodily and mental sensations. But above all, watch for the clear light, the moment of transition, so clearly that you will be able to record it accurately when you wake in the morning.
This can be a powerful exercise. If you want to let me know what happens you can.
Sleep well. Live well,