“I've been having difficulty connecting to my practice…”
This statement arrived via email recently. There was much more to the exchanges that followed, but this was the core of the matter: a sense of disconnection with practice. Because so many of us struggle with this from time to time, I asked my correspondent if I could share some of what passed between us. Permission granted, I - or should I say, we - offer the following:
The first thing to realize is that struggling to connect with practice is a pretty common experience. This takes a lot of weight off. ‘Really? This is common?’ Fears of something being wrong loosen at this point. Worries of missing out unwind. An inner sense of ‘Whew!’ is followed by a sigh of relief.
The next thing to understand when this sort of thing arises is that often - but certainly not always - that sense of disconnection reflects the fact that one’s meditation path is coming to life. This one often takes a moment to sink in, so let’s repeat the statement: Disconnection often reflects the fact that one’s meditation path is coming to life.
For whatever reason, early in our relationship with this work many of us find an experience in practice that closely corresponds to what we think ‘meditation’ should be. A sense of relaxation. A slowing of thoughts. An inner openness. We sit down, settle a little, and these sorts of things come forward. ‘This is great!’ we think as we sign up for another class.
Sooner or later, however, our practice - our body, our life - will move on from that experience to another one. No problem, right? Well, big ‘problem’ if when we sit down to meditate we are actually standing on the front stoop of our summer home waiting for yesterday’s relaxation to show up. As minutes tick by and our expected date continues to ‘no show’, we’ll likely begin to feel confused. We’ll begin to feel frustrated. To the extent that these do not correspond to our ideas about meditation, we’ll begin to feel disjointed, disoriented, and - yes - disconnected.
How to fix this? Well, any attempt to fix this situation assumes there’s something wrong, assumes there’s a ‘problem’ - and there are those little air quotes again! In fact, there’s nothing wrong here. As mentioned, something pretty exciting may actually be taking place. Our practice is coming to life. Our practice is connecting with life. And as is often the case - for me, anyway - this life is a wee bit different than expected.
At this point, a question might be worth exploring. The next time you find yourself having a hard time connecting with practice, ask, ‘What is my experience right now?’ Whatever the answer might be - good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, affirming or disappointing; even if it’s a sense of being a thousand miles removed from the body - feel this. This is your one and only connection point in this moment. It is your trustworthy guide into a deeper relationship with practice and, of course, with life.