Are you supposed to do your daily meditation now and you just… don’t want to?
Maybe you know you should but you don’t really feel why you wanted to in the first place. Doing just about anything else seems more appealing.
Don’t worry it happens to everyone. It’s not the end of your meditation career, just another flavor of it. Try a few of these tips for getting motivated and re-energized for meditation. Soon enough, you’ll be back in the flow.
Create the right setting
If inspiration isn’t coming from within, find it in your environment.
Clean up the space where you meditate and make everything look beautiful. Burn incense, light a candle and put up some flowers or devotional images. You can even make a small ritual out of it. Feel like you’re preparing a sacred space. When you light incense or put things on your altar, give them as an offering: to your teacher, deity, the benefit of all beings, or whatever moves you the most.
Reading something spiritual is an easy way to put yourself in the mood.
I love reading spiritual poetry before meditation – words that point to what’s beyond words.
I highly recommend the great Sufi poets, like Rumi, Hafiz, Kabir and Rabia.
There’s an amazing book called Love Poems From God that includes the poetry of twelve mystics from different traditions: St. Theresa of Avila, Mirabai, St. Francis of Assisi, the Sufis I mentioned, and others.
In general, reading creates a connection between you and the author of the text. Reading the words of spiritual masters can open you to their experience. If there’s a teacher or mystic who is inspiring to you, you can cultivate a real relationship with them through reading.
Then, when you’ve lost your motivation, just reconnecting with their words can be enough to rekindle the flame.
One of the Buddha’s primary teachings is that everything is impermanent.
Nothing lasts forever, no matter how solid it seems or how much we want it too. This includes ourselves.
Death meditations have for centuries been an important – and surprisingly uplifting – practice for jump-starting motivation, in Buddhism and other spiritual traditions.
Contemplating your own mortality might sound pretty grim and not so inspiring. But in fact, it’s a beautiful way to see what gives your life meaning, to realize what’s important and be grateful for what you have.
When you’re stuck between meditating and watching a movie, remember that this life is short and it could end at any moment. What’s the most meaningful and empowering way you can use your precious time?
Listen to inspiring music
Music is magic: use it! Uplifting spiritual music has the power to take your motivation from 0 to 60. Before you start to meditate, crank up the volume for a few minutes on Peia, Deva Premal, Krishna Das, Shimshai, Nahko and Medicine for the People, Orot… whatever makes your heart soar. Better yet, sing along. Just don’t get so lost in the music that you forget to actually meditate!
If inspiring music wasn’t enough, take the nuclear option: dancing.
Turn up your ecstatic dance mix and dance like no one’s watching. (Hopefully no one’s watching; this isn’t the best choice if you have roommates who are busy trying to do something else.) Dance like it’s the first time you’ve ever danced. Dance like a majestic, glittering fairy twirling through an enchanted forest. Dance with everything you are. Dance like Krishna is dancing with you.
Now, do you feel excited? Do you feel alive? Do you feel the dance of life flowing through you?
OK, very good! Now sit down and meditate.
Try a different practice
Are you living or dying by zazen? Or are you more of a vipassana-or-bust kind of person?
It’s great to be committed to your practice, but sometimes, if the juice goes out of it, commitment can become rigidity. If it’s been a while since you’ve tried another type of meditation, give yourself permission to dabble a little bit.
Take a day for Sufi whirling or walking meditation, or whatever you like that you don’t do so often. The internet is full of guided meditations and instructions from every spiritual tradition on the planet.
Go out there and try something new.
Meditate on feeling uninspired
When we meditate, we are not trying to get high. We’re trying to get free.
This means being able to observe equally and without preference everything that your mind presents you with. Whether it’s joy or sadness, anger or bliss, you want to be able to witness it. Feel it come and go, without following it or rejecting it.
“This too is a condition of the mind. If I can observe it, I am not it. Who is the one who is observing it?”
A state of boredom or low energy is no exception. Rather than trying to change it into something more fun, sometimes the most productive thing is to just sit with it. Accept it for what it is.
What is really happening when you feel flat? Usually, since we all want to feel good, we try to avoid experiencing low states face to face. This is just another conditioning. Sometimes I feel very inspired, sometimes I don’t feel inspired at all. Neither state is what I really am. What’s beyond them both?
Do a micro-practice
If the thought of sitting for a whole half hour just makes you go blaaeeegh, cut a compromise with yourself through something called a micro-practice.
In a micro-practice, you meditate for only one minute. The catch is that you do it with FULL INTENSITY. 100% COMMITTED. YOUR LIFE IS AT STAKE IN THIS ONE MINUTE.
For this one minute, your present-moment loving awareness is turned up to 11. You are more here than you’ve ever been before… knowing that in a few seconds, you can relax.
After this micro-practice, you might find yourself as charged and present as after a much longer but less intense meditation. Also, you might be all fired up and ready to keep going!
Look at nature
Nature is the greatest inspiration.
Rather than feeling stuck in a routine, go outside and connect with the beauty of the natural world, alive and always changing.
Looking deeply at nature is a meditation in itself.
Try to see plants, rocks and the sky like you’re seeing them for the first time. Look at the shapes and colors without identifying or labeling them. Also, if the weather’s nice, try sitting on the bare ground to meditate.
Let Mother Earth refresh your spirit!
Dedicate your practice for someone else
Last but definitely not least, if you don’t feel like meditating for yourself, do it for someone else.
Meditate for your mother who never learned how. Meditate for your friend who’s going through a rough time. Meditate for this whole crazy world, full of beings who just want to be happy, so desperately in need of love, peace and connection.
Not only will it give you a spark for this meditation, in the long run, practicing like this will bring more depth, strength and sincerity into your spiritual life.
Spiritual practice has its own rhythm. Low points happen to everyone; they’re part of the game, just as much as the peaks. Maybe you just feel uninspired for a day or two, or you might go weeks without feeling much calling to practice.
What’s important is to keep going through these dry periods. Accept them and don’t beat yourself up about it. Just keep trying, keep experimenting, and remember how you felt when you were first inspired to start meditating.
And take hope: sometimes after the low point, your next breakthrough is just around the corner!