Week 3: Common Challenges & Misconceptions 

Welcome to Week 3!

This week we discuss some of the common challenges, obstacles and misconceptions that can arise throughout our practice.

Just knowing about these is very useful because it immediately empowers you to notice them as they come up, and to know that they are obstacles to overcome. Nothing personal or strange, just expected aspects of a regular practice.

We cover four key areas of challenge and some strategies on how to manage them:

    • The feeling of not wanting to practice. e.g. “I don’t have time.”
    • Notice the resistance first and see if you can simply let it be there and practice anyway.
    • Reframe meditation as an intelligent thing to do, even if you don’t feel like you have time. Sharpening your axe before the day’s work.
    • Remind yourself of your motivations for practicing. Remember – success comes from long-term thinking.
    • A mind so busy that meditation feels impossible.
    • Remember that a busy mind is completely normal. We are not trying to ‘stop’ the mind in meditation.
    • We simple want to notice the busy-ness, note the thoughts and come back to the object of focus.
    • It can help to anchor attention in the body, keeping it still and relaxed.
    • Falling asleep or becoming ‘dull-minded’ during practice
    • This is normal, particularly at the beginning, since we have a conditioned response to sleep when eyes are closed and body is relaxed. Sometimes this can also be a defense mechanism of the mind – so be on the lookout.
    • Treat this as an obstacle to overcome, work hard to not fall asleep by any means. (Open eyes, stand up, walk around, etc)
    • The sleepiness will pass in time with practice, but may come back in phases. If it doesn’t consider getting more sleep.
    • Distraction and inability to relax or focus due to discomfort.
    • Investigate the discomfort with wise attention.
      • Is it a real, acute, physical pain? If so, adjust your position to get more comfortable.
      • Is the discomfort a form of internal resistance of some kind? Resistnace to some light pain, to sitting still, meditation, etc? If so, investigate the feeling of resistance with your attention, bringing a sense of calm acceptance to the sensations of resistance.