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Meditation is connection to self, tapping into your own inherent power. This takes practice. Here are five common reasons why meditation seems difficult or even frustrating in the initial days of practice.

1. Flood of thoughts: We often find that thoughts distract the attention. The more we resist, the more they persist. Hence, it is best to acknowledge the thoughts that arise, and quickly come back to the practice instead of getting carried away.

One helpful way is to say, “I will wait for another thought, till then I meditate.”

Getting carried away is the issue, really. When you sit and focus, it is but natural to bring everything in together. In that sense, thoughts are not as much a distraction as bringing in all aspects of you, to you; you are not separate from any of your experiences and memories.

All that your thought forms are seeking is your attention, now that you are getting quiet, so this is the time and opportunity for them to present them to you, the ‘master.’ So, be a master, acknowledge each thought as it arises and let it go. Breath is your best buddy. Bring your attention back to breath and start where you left.

2. Discipline: There could hardly be a child who loves to brush teeth in the beginning. But with daily practice, brushing goes on to become a part of everyday routine. Meditation, too is a matter of habit no matter how ‘unnatural’ it may seem in the beginning. But one can ask how to bring the discipline of daily meditation?

Well, it is through intention. How to intend? Intend with the trust that this is self-investment. And with the trust that none of your practice is a waste. No matter how fruitless it seems in the beginning, there is still learning. You learnt what not to do, what may not work for you. These are all steps leading towards what will work for you ultimately. It is advisable to set your daily practice at the same time and at the same place.

3. Doubt: Doubt is a product, an outcome of the mind. While it has a role to play in the exercise of your wisdom, know that it is safe to drop doubt during meditation. It is like a baggage that won’t allow you to go far in your practice that is meant to evolve. So, drop doubt, embrace trust as you settle to meditate.

Affirm: “I trust in me”. “Whatever is for me, will come to me.” Doubt may also arise as: am I concentrating enough? Perhaps not enough? Is this the right way? etc. These are distractions. Simply relax. There is no need to self-judge. Initially, you may choose to sit with the feeling of: ‘I am enjoying my me time with my best buddy, breath.’ Embrace each day’s experience as a step forward.

4. Expectation: What are you expecting? Reflect on this. In addition, you may also meditate with the expectation of being a “nobody”. You are not your thoughts, not your emotions, or moods, your relations, your name, identity or status. All these, change.

All these, you perceive. All these, therefore, are not you. So, who are you and to whom do these thoughts arise? With each breath, ask, “Who am I?” Can you be an observer? In fact, you are far bigger and grander that what you perceive yourself to be; you are pure consciousness, always alive.

5. Focus: The easiest and most effective way is to focus on breath; in and out. Watch the process. That’s it. Or just observe your body, or focus on a chakra from where you breathe in and out. Imagine nothing else exists beyond what you focus on. It is just you and your focus. Everything else ceases to be. Everything else becomes irrelevant. You can also choose to focus on a sound, or affirmations or visualise. Or choose to combine them if that enables you to slip into total silence.

The breath, affirmations, visualisations, sound (beej mantra or any other), all these are tools naturally available to you for meditation. There isn’t one method that works for all. So, go ahead and experiment what works for you. Trust in what feels right and what resonates with you. Experiment is not a waste of time, but an investment. Every breath that you take towards maximising your meditation experience is working for you. Trust that.