Mar 14, 2019
What to do when your Meditation Practice has Faded Away
Was there a time when you had a good groove going with meditation? Did ‘life get in the way’ and you find yourself rarely getting a few minutes in anymore? For those with difficulty meditating even though you once had a practice, this article is for you.
Everyone knows about meditation and it is incredibly common to learn the EVERYONE wants to learn how. But you actually did it! You learned and were consistent for a time. Maybe a long time.
So what happened? Well, it hardly matters. What matters is how will you get your practice back if it has faded away?
Many who live a spiritual life are aware that attachment to specific outcomes can lead to disappointment. The Buddhist doctrine teaches that attachment to desires leads to suffering. Same principle. Be leery of badly wanting to reclaim what you had in the past. It may be a form of attachment.
Instead, revert to beginner mind once again. In order to reignite a sporadic and peetering meditation practice, think more in terms of starting fresh as opposed to quickly getting back to where you once were.
Look Forward, Not Back
It will be helpful to examine what factors in the past led to you making a firm commitment and practicing meditation regularly. That kind of retrospection IS useful. Be aware of the temptation to try and rush to recapture whatever was working in the past. Whatever set of circumstances were present then that led to success may not be present now. Let that go.
Take an objective look and recall why you made the commitment before. The first step in ramping back up to a daily practice is to let go of the frustration and angst of having lost it and entering into a mind set of commitment in the present. First question; Are you ready to commit to consistency again?
The second important realization is to accept the work required to get to where you want to be. Note the difference between getting to where you want to be versus getting back to where you were. You can almost never get back to where you were.
You absolutely CAN get back to a good level of consistency and even end up beyond where you were. However the helpful attitude is to focus on the future as opposed to the past. Let your practice develop based on where you are at now, not where you were.
The good news about starting fresh is that muscle memory definitely applies. Anyone who has let there Spanish slip due to not needing it, or feels like they can hardly play the piano anymore since they stopped practicing can be comforted that a second run brings the familiar back easier than it took the first go-round.
Round 2 is Easier than Starting from Scratch
There is no denying that coming back to start again you will find the concepts and abilities easier than if you were starting from scratch. You may find you can’t meditate as deeply as you used to initially but once you relax that tension and irritation at having failed to keep it up, it actually comes back pretty quickly.
The mind is malleable and returning to a familiar space reignites neuropathways (Actually, I can’t say that’s fact since I have no official medical knowledge but in my experience, it feels like this is what happens). In essence, get started asap. In just breaking the ice and committing to one session, you are likely to feel some hope spring up.
That hope will be like an injection of energy so long as you don’t get down on yourself for where you are. Try hard to forget that and focus your effort on practicing as often as you can beginning today.
Look for Ways to Meditate Outside your Home
If you went to regular classes, or you took a course, you may immediately miss those aspects. Going somewhere to meditate outside your home or doing it within a community are two very helpful ways to improve success. When we are home and on our own, it is quite easy to abandon sessions that feel like a struggle.
In fact, many people who have taken our courses have started sessions feeling distracted and fidgety but because the class kept going, they were able to eventually settle into a good deep inner space. Quitting when home alone can preclude such an opportunity.
More hope can be generated by sitting in front of a computer and actively searching for drop-in classes and other opportunities to meditate in groups. Booking a class and committing to it fosters excitement. Hey, you’re back in action!
Addressing the Underlying Reason you Slipped
By far, the most important thing to do in order to get your practice back to where you want it to be is to examine what happened. Unconscious thinking leads to history repeating itself. If it was a series of life occurrences that derailed you, that could be good news because another similar series of things is unlikely.
But if your practice faded due to neglect, you will need to address why you began to neglect what was so meaningful in the past. I have always stressed that unless you have a compelling reason to learn and practice meditation, it is likely not to stick. Examine within. Do you have a strong inner drive to practice meditation consistently again? Find out what it is.
If you have found that reason, begin to remind yourself several times during the day of how much of a priority it is for you to be true to this desire. A healthy desire leads to commitment which in turn fuels a strong will. You’ll need will power to get you started each day.
Retaking a Course you Liked
There’s nothing like making an investment to fuel action. If you enjoyed our Level 1 Meditation Course, consider taking it again. If it is no longer available, consider our online version of the course. Don’t just rely on your own will. Having material and teachings tends to spark inspiration. Inspiration makes practice so much more fun!
Overwhelm yourself (in a healthy way) with stimulation all supporting your aim to meditate once again. You’re seeking momentum until it becomes habitual.
Take a couple of drop-in meditation classes a week for 2 weeks. Wake up a little earlier and meditate before work. Sign up for a 30 day free trial of our online course. Do things that force you to meditate and see what it takes to get you back into the groove.