Digity wrote:Some days I wake up in the morning and I can just tell I feel concentrated. I know when I sit down and meditate I'll be able to focus somewhat well on the breath without being overly distracted. Other days I wake up and I can just tell my mind is agitated and the meditation is going to be a painful process of me constantly trying to pull myself back to my breath the whole time I'm meditating. The interesting thing is that I can usually tell, even before sitting down to meditate, how the meditation will be. This isn't always the case. Sometimes I've gone to sit down thinking it's not going to go well, but I'll settle into the breath.
What do you make of all this? What about those days when you know the meditation is just going to be a pain. I know I shouldn't just skip those days, but they can be so demoralizing. I understand we need to take the highs and lows with a sense of equanimity, but deep down everytime we sit to meditate I'm sure we all want to fall into a sense of calm.
It's an excellent sign regarding development of mindfulness that you are aware of how distracted the mind is to begin with. This shows good development of the third foundation of mindfulness and is a big help in understanding how things influence this state of mind.
Regarding the hard days, they can be some of the most rewarding meditation sessions. When the mind is particularly distracted or there is significant physical pain or ill will present there is an opportunity to observe the mind playing some of its tricks that are significant contributors to suffering. Being able to watch those tricks and learn about them allows the ability to more skillfully deal with those same difficult situations and to better recognize what perpetuates those unskillful states of mind so they can be abandoned. It's not unreasonable to view those days when meditation is going to be a pain as the greatest opportunities to develop your skills. If you were trying to improve at chess, for example, playing against someone who you knew you could beat might be a "victory" but it isn't going to improve your skill. Playing against a grandmaster is most likely going to result in a defeat in the game, but you can learn more about the game itself and become a much better player. The same applies to meditation. Developing skill over the long run is much more valuable than the "winning" of a particularly pleasant meditation session in the short run. If you view your difficult days as an opportunity rather than a chore, it can become an inspiring rather than demoralizing situation.MN 10
MN 10: Satipatthana Sutta wrote:"And how does a monk remain focused on the mind in & of itself? There is the case where a monk, when the mind has passion, discerns that the mind has passion. When the mind is without passion, he discerns that the mind is without passion. When the mind has aversion, he discerns that the mind has aversion. When the mind is without aversion, he discerns that the mind is without aversion. When the mind has delusion, he discerns that the mind has delusion. When the mind is without delusion, he discerns that the mind is without delusion.
"When the mind is constricted, he discerns that the mind is constricted. When the mind is scattered, he discerns that the mind is scattered. When the mind is enlarged, he discerns that the mind is enlarged. When the mind is not enlarged, he discerns that the mind is not enlarged. When the mind is surpassed, he discerns that the mind is surpassed. When the mind is unsurpassed, he discerns that the mind is unsurpassed. When the mind is concentrated, he discerns that the mind is concentrated. When the mind is not concentrated, he discerns that the mind is not concentrated. When the mind is released, he discerns that the mind is released. When the mind is not released, he discerns that the mind is not released.