How can I meditate when it seems to make me feel worse?

When you're struggling with unhappiness or discomfort, meditation - paying deep attention to the present moment - can seem to amplify the problems you're facing. Here's some helpful perspective and a specific tool to get you unstuck, from WITHIN teacher Devon Pipars.

Q: When I sit down to meditate on hard days, watching my mind just makes me feel worse.  Any advice? 

A:  Meditation helps us to be fully present in the moment…and often, when the mind is pulling us into regret of the past, or pushing us anxiously into the future, meditation is exactly what we need to see that nothing is actually wrong in the present moment.

But what about when the present moment isn't a comfortable place? Something is wrong with the body, or you're in the midst of deep sadness. Then what?

At these times, being present to those sensations can be unbearable, and we’ll be very tempted to just run away from the experience, to distract our minds from the current state.  And sometimes, that’s what’s needed.

But when we’ve run out of moves and distractions, and we don’t want to be present with that discomfort, then meditation can serve us in a different way. It helps us realize that all problems are personal. What I mean by that is, all problems belong to the person, to the life situation that you're in as an individual on this planet.

By tuning into what isn't limited to our specific personal situation - universal unchanging being-ness - we're able to observe the “person” (the body/mind/ego) from a place that's stable and unaffected.

Still, sometimes, this is cold comfort, because as we sit and direct our attention inward, the dialogue of the suffering mind just seems louder. 

On these days, I employ the use of mantra, a simple repetition of a phrase in Sanskrit, to give the mind a positively-infused activity while I sit.

Mantra puts the mind on a hamster wheel, allowing meditation to happen beyond that activity, and a sense of ease and spaciousness opens up.

I love sharing this tool with students. Come join me in the studio Mondays or Tuesday afternoons, and let me know if you’d like to learn more!

Devon teaches our afternoon & evening classes on Mondays & Tuesdays. She has a passion for helping students deepen their practice, whether you're just starting out or have years of experience. Join her for a class this week, or get a taste of her guidance virtually through WITHIN's channel on the Aura Health app.