When I was a teenager I developed a form of meditation which is eerily very similar to what I have been practicing for the better part of three decades.
In my early 20s I 'studied' under a very charismatic aikido teacher and his form of aikido had a very spiritual bent. It included some form of meditation that was a glorified regulated breathing exercise and never lasted for more than a couple of minutes. When I was 22, I attended my first residential retreat and learned anapana (samatha variation), vedanapassana (observation of anicca characteristic of sensation) and metta bhavana. That first retreat was extremely difficult but was a life-altering event.
I think part of the issue is that we mistakenly believe that meditation is easy, relaxing and very pleasant. My experience has been that meditation can be difficult, challenging, unpleasant as it can also be extremely pleasant, dull and boring. When one is actively engaged in mastering the monkey mind by keeping the attention fixed on a singular object for long periods of time and engaged in an activity that pauses the habitual response of craving and aversion to sense impression, then it is only natural that it will be difficult from time to time.
As I mentioned to one member yesterday, with regards to spiritual practice, I have found some comfort in the old samurai adage of "expect nothing but be ready for anything". And to always keep in mind that whatever arises also has the nature to pass away. Everything that arises, sooner or later passes away.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725Compassionate Hands Foundation
(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global Relief