Meditation is about awakening to deeper states of well-being. So if you are feeling drained after a session, this indicates that you are doing something wrong.
In this article, I will help you pinpoint what could be causing the issues of feeling drained, by giving you a developmental approach to the practice of meditation that will help you balance the mind and therefore feel refresh, not drained, after a session of meditation.
Ready? Let’s go!
A Possible Cause of Feeling Drained After Meditation
The most likely cause of feeling drained from meditation is pushing. Pushing comes about by simply trying too hard. Trying too hard to remain focused as you meditate is the most common cause of issues that arise from meditation in the early stages of developing a practice.
And pushing often happens as a result of people trying to overcome the habit of falling asleep while meditating.
Hard aches, pain in the body, eye strain, and feelings of tension in the head, all these are examples of trying too hard.
This pushy energy creates tension in your nervous system, which in turn causes tension in your physical body.
How to Prevent Feeling Drained From Meditation
So the question arises, if the feeling of being drained from meditation is caused by a faulty practice, how do I prevent it?
The answer is to be patient with yourself. The more you “try” to meditate the more likely you are to develop a faulty practice. This is true for a lot of things in life, not just meditation but, it is vital that you do not push or strain or squeeze your mind during a session.
So the trick, if there is one, is to be gentle and patient with yourself, and know that if you continue to practice, the benefits of meditation will arise naturally.
It is counter-intuitive to be sure but, the more you try the less likely you are to succeed in developing a practice. It’s a subtle point because what I am not saying is that you do not need to put effort into developing a practice. No. I am not saying that at all.
You need to put effort into showing up each day for at least 20 minutes. However, during the session rather than continuing to put the effort in, you need to switch from try mode to a mode of engagement that is not normally leveraged in our everyday life. And we do this in three distinct phases.
These three phases are a developmental approach to meditation insofar as each one builds on the last in such a way as each supports the next.
The Three Phases of Developing a Meditation Practice
These three stages are vitally important to get right if you are serious about developing a meditation practice.
And the good thing is they are easy to implement because they are based on a developmental approach to the practice of meditation.
By taking a step-by-step approach, you can be sure you are doing the right thing at the right time.
The First Phase of Meditation Development – Relaxation
The first of these stages is the stage of developing relaxation. It is, however, a very specific type of relaxation we are developing here. And this type of relaxation can best be summed at as, clear relaxation or perhaps you could call it, not-spaced-out-relaxation.
Clear relaxation or not-spaced-out-relaxation is, generally speaking, not how we normally relax. When most people relax they do so by releasing tension in their body and mind and allowing the mind to do whatever it wants. The issue that arises when we do this is that dullness will often accompany this kind of relaxation. In meditation practice, we want to avoid dullness as it will prevent clarity from arising.
So if we use breathing meditation as an example here, the way to practice then is to focus on the natural rising and falling of the breath.
And we develop clear-relaxation by releasing all tension in the body and mind on the out-breath without losing the amount of clarity with which you started the session.
This approach will enable you to remain balanced, and it is from this place that stability will arise. Think about it, how can your mind be stable if it is not relax?
The Second Phase of Meditation Development – Stability
In the second phase, we turn out attention to the development of stability. At first, this is something we must foster in a gentle manner because the mind is so used to wondering wherever it wants.
So we need to gently and patiently return our mind to the object of meditation time after time before it will remain focused.
You can think of it as puppy training. If we want a puppy to sit in a particular spot, it will not be long before the puppy wanders off. Rather than scold the puppy you would simply pick it up and place it back on the same spot. After many attempts, the puppy would finally understand that you want it to sit there.
Like this, we need to be gentle and patient with our mind. If you find yourself wandering off into daydreams, simply let go of what you were thinking, release, and return to the object of meditation.
Stability of mind will naturally increase using this method. It is the quickest and easiest way to begin gaining the benefits of meditation without too much effort but, it will take time.
Exactly how much time? That is hard to say but, one sure way to shorten that time is to have a daily meditation practice.
The Third Phase of Meditation Development – Clarity
Clarity here is the opposite of dullness. Clarity allows for things inside your consciousness to be seen and therefore giving the chance for insight to arise.
Thus in this third phase, we begin to focus on the quality of clarity and the vividness of that clarity.
You develop clarity by slowly increasing the intensity of your meditation. This is achieved by focusing intently on more and more subtle objects.
You can start with the breath at the abdomen, then at the nostrils, before moving to thoughts, feelings, mental images, and finally to consciousness itself.
By focusing on more and more subtle objects, clarity will naturally increase but there is the danger of exciting the mind and therefore losing a deep sense of relaxation that was fostered in the earlier stages of meditational development.
It is important, therefore, to use your introspection from time to time to evaluate your mind in order to see if you have fallen prey to one or more of the distractions of meditation.
When your meditation is working well, all three—relaxation, stability, and clarity—are merely supportive. That is, relaxation will support stability and clarity; clarity will support stability and relaxation, and so on.
And it is at this point that meditation becomes effortless with the three characteristics or bliss, peace, and insight.
If you’ve ever asked yourself, does meditation work for everyone, know you know the answer.
Summary & Next Steps
When you meditate correctly you are moving towards deeper states of well-being. So the importance of understanding how to meditate correctly is obviously important.
Breathwork, too, is something you can use to gain access to deeper states of well-being that are there naturally but blocked by the thing we do incorrectly, like pushing and trying!
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