meditation feels stale

What to do When Meditation Feels Stale

No matter how long you’ve been meditating nor how inspired you might feel, there are days when your meditation practice can feel like a chore. This is totally normal.

It can be tempting to get very analytical. Who wouldn’t want to move through dry periods as quickly as possible? For the spiritual seeker, it is common to reflect upon boredom or drabness in meditation as a sign that something is wrong. The solution is generally simple.

We as souls like new things. Newness is fresh and exciting. New relationships carry extra promise as we haven’t seen very much of the other person yet. So much mystery yet to be revealed. Our minds seem to naturally fill in the missing pieces with hopefulness.

Are you Hopeful?

Let’s examine this as the concept can be very freeing. Hope is a foundational aspect of spiritual growth. Because we don’t know what lies ahead, we either decide to be hopeful and take on an optimistic viewpoint or we get worried and take on anxiety. Have you ever considered that this is a choice?

Wisdom is important too. It isn’t recommended to force hope onto a situation when your wisdom is telling you something is off. Anxiety breeds where fears of the future exist. Sometimes the anxiety is founded because the signs support a possible negative outcome. Sometimes those fears are not grounded in reality. Anxiety is common amidst those who have faced a lot of adversity and have lost hope to some degree.

A first step when your meditation feels stale is to examine how hopeful you are in your life right now. Being hopeful and having faith that the future will improve, even in something as simple as your meditation practice is important.

You may wonder, how can you fabricate hope if it isn’t naturally there? This is a good question! We don’t want to be naive and become delusional about something false. So where does hope come from?

There is an expression… Hope springs eternal. Consider that there is an unlimited amount of hope available to you but what makes it spring is your faith that positive change is coming. One of the best ways to ramp up your faith and connect to those good changes that are coming is to seek new teachings.

Spiritual Growth is Ongoing and Requires Consistent Effort

The spiritual path is truly fascinating. I’ve heard people make very emphatic prayers that are not realistic, Here is an example;

‘God, let all good things come to me now and for all my life!’

The illusion is that one strong prayer covers the person for life.

Another person prayed thus;

‘God, I hereby forgive all those who have ever hurt or wronged me from the beginning of my life through to today and until I pass from this Earth.’

It sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it? Actually, it’s a bit lazy. It tries to lump everything into one line and excuse the work that is needed for forgiveness to be real. One could say… “Yes, but Jesus said ‘Anything you ask in My Name will be given’.”

Forgiveness actually requires a process if it is going to liberate the soul. Just intellectually deciding to forgive someone is a step along the way but the freedom comes when we probe into ourselves to see what if any emotion from the past is still buried inside. You can read more about a forgiveness process here.

The same principles apply when your meditation practice seems to have stalled a bit. It is your soul needing something. We notice the dry feeling of not much coming through or recognize that we have slipped into a rut. Getting into meditation isn’t too hard but once there, it’s boring or routine.

There is work to be done! Whatever your spiritual path is, be it mystical, Christian, Buddhist, Zen Taoist, Sufi, Jewish or just something that you have pieced together on your own, take it upon yourself to stimulate hope by reading stuff that your teachers have written.

Attend a seminar or watch some videos online. In other words, open humbly to the inflow of new material and see if that excites you to go back inside yourself and bust through. Another really good idea is to seek out feedback. If you have a teacher, share with them what is happening and get some counsel.

There are times when staleness comes and we demonstrate our dedication to the path simply by meditating through it. You can see these times as tests. Are you dedicated to your growth such that even when it feels hard, you still put the time in?

Before Enlightenment Chop Wood and Carry Water. After Enlightenment…

The Buddhist expression captures it well. Enlightenment will come if we keep going. How long will it take? Don’t worry about that as it is out of your control. Keep your life in order and take care of business but meditate daily!

Finally, as a way to reveal what may be causing the staleness, review your physical and emotional life. If there are troubling aspects you are aware of, seek to act where possible. Low level anxiety or depression if not addressed can lead to subtle states of hopelessness. This may spill into your meditation practice.

Always remember that hope brings life. Foster an interior feeling of hopefulness. As weird as it sounds, study hope and what seems to generate it. When are you most hopeful? Do more of that. What triggers the early stages of hopelessness? Wean your life of those things to whatever degree you can.

Seek out fresh teaching. Search online.  Look at getting out of the familiar and attending a talk, or a workshop, a class or even a retreat. Pray for hope to flood through your entire being.

Finally, ask a trusted teacher for help. Humbly submit to the guidance of someone you trust. You will find in short order that a breakthrough is occuring.

Reach out to a Spiritual Teacher