When I sit to meditate, I find it difficult to concentrate on one thing at a time. Sometimes I feel sleepy, and I also have pains in my back.
I have found that whatever comes up to distract me in meditation may in fact be a positive result of my meditation. Not the distraction, but the fact that I am now aware of something that needs to be “fixed.”
I taught a class in meditation for beginners where every student told me about a major obstacle they were facing. They mentioned sleepiness, pain, fear, sadness, anxiety that they weren’t meditating correctly, and more.
In each case, it turned out to be an area of the person’s life that needed attention. Meditation simply made them aware of what they needed to do.
When you climb a high mountain, your progress is usually not straight. You reach the peak by crossing many smaller peaks and valleys.
Nothing is wrong. You should congratulate yourself! You are simply learning to meditate.
Your efforts are taking you into new territory. The solution is simple. If a distraction breaks your concentration, calmly bring your attention back. Don’t waste energy feeling sad or upset. (That will only increase the distraction.) You will find that as you persevere, God will come to your aid. Keep in your heart your main goal – that you want to know Him, his love, His joy divine. These are the things that matter.
As for the pain in your back – again, be grateful that you have discovered a problem that you need to address with a practical solution. For now, it is perfectly fine to adjust your position to relieve the pain. What matters, above all, is to open your heart to the Divine. This is far more important than sitting in precisely the right position.
There are so many choices of aids to meditation – cushions, kneeling benches, chairs with footstools, pillows, back rests, etc. The most important thing is to find something that works. Keep experimenting until you do.
Sleepiness is a common problem. It’s what we normally do when we close our eyes for a sustained time. When sleep approaches, you may want to switch to chanting, repeating an affirmation, or sending healing prayers for a few minutes until you feel energetic again.
Be creative. Meditation is not only a science. It is an art. Much better to “change the program” than to give up after a few minutes. What if you cannot meditate at all? You can always pray, ask God to bless others, and offer yourself to serve Him. This is what God likes – it is the most indispensable “technique” of meditation.
Take these obstacles in a lighthearted spirit, as interesting challenges, rather than a permanent defeat. God knows of your problems, and He will help you if you ask as His child.
You’ll be surprised, if you respond with determination, how your subconscious mind will quickly admit defeat and cooperate with your meditation, instead of trying to tempt you away with sleep.