Sitting quietly in meditation is a practice which reveals our least excited state – the very basis of our Being. However, our least excited state may not always result in an experience of sustained pure silence. Instead, we must think of our least excited state as our simplest form of awareness in that particular moment. As the mind dives into meditation, our body faithfully and dutifully prints out whatever state of de-excitation the mind is able to achieve. The sequence is: first the mind, and then the body. These are the mechanics of how the body launders stress – through simple rest – and the engine driving that process is the mind.
As the body unwinds stress, the mind can become active with thoughts, emotions or even body sensation. Those experiences are the after effect of the body unstressing. Whenever we have those experiences in our meditation, as long they are preceded by our thinking the mantra, then we know they are the byproduct of stress release. Something good is happening.
When there is more stress in the body, there are more opportunities for stress to be released. During the early days of meditation, when the body is still holding a lifetime backlog of stress, only very little de-excitation is needed in order to trigger its release. As we clear out that backlog through regular practice, the trend is toward more sustained periods of depth in meditation.
However, deeper meditation is not solely a function of how many months or years we have been practicing. We must also factor in whatever is happening in our current life experience. Life is change, and with change comes a variety of demands. Sometimes those demands can overwhelm us and add stress. Even though experienced meditators find this happening less and less in their lives, no one is completely immune – no matter how much meditation we’ve done.
For most, the three biggest demands in life are change in living situation, change in work (financial) situation and change in relationship status. Even long time meditators report that their depth of meditation can change when those demands arise. Oftentimes, meditation during those challenging periods feels more “on the surface” and less relaxing, and some even feel a little agitated coming out of their practice.
If any of those experiences sounds familiar, know that you are not alone. And also, remind yourself that it is just a small bump in the road – it will pass. Ultimately, the perfect prescription is simply to keep regular with our practice, and take the whole experience as it comes, without judgement or concern.