Meditation is difficult?
To enjoy life fully, we have to learn to appreciate each moment without always wishing for something different. We need to learn to love the fact that things are always changing, that life is messy and unpredictable, and that there are many things we don't know. To be at ease internally, we first have to understand that the mind is simply a changing field of conditions. To be able to appreciate the changing states of mind without an exclusive preference for clarity or calm is the first step toward medatitive equipoise. At times, our thoughts stomp through like a platoon of storm troopers. In another moment, there might be vast openness and peace. It's always alternating: Noisy. Silent. Vivid. Dull. As our practice of meditation matures, we learn to appreciate the complete spectrum of mind. There emerges a sense of curiosity and wonder.
The insight that mind is constant change makes us fit for concentration. Sustained focus has to coincide with this insight, otherwise frustration will ensue and spiritual development will be imbalanced (not to mention, you'll have lots of headaches). With strong concentration alone you can certainly override the natural currents of mind, enter various trance states (samadhi), and experience different levels of bliss. But when those mind states end, the preferred pleasant experience also ends. There is always a struggle to get back “there”, to the calm and blissful place. This type of grasping is a common mistake on the path.
Let us be absolutely clear about one thing: effort to avoid discomfort and secure preferred states of mind is not meditation.
The bliss that comes and goes is not true bliss, but rather the flip-side of frustration. Once bliss ends, the inner conflict with mind resumes. This is not a path toward awakening.
So how do you clear your your head?
Befriend the mind.
With recognition of how our own mind actually functions, concentration can be rightly applied and liberation is no further than you own navel.
A quick practice session:
Sit down in a comfortable position and do not move. Release all striving and enter into harmony with your own direct experience. Pay attention to the feeling of your Vital Center. If thoughts come, smile. If thoughts do not come, smile. If there is calm, great. If there is agitation, fine. Notice how when you stop trying to manipulate your situation, there is no difficulty. When you don’t fight with thoughts, there is no conflict.
Meditation is simply the practice of resting in our natural state. Personal effort and surrender work together to reveal what is always the case: the true nature of mind is luminous clarity. We are originally whole and immaculate from the beginning. And there is nothing you need to do can do to make it so.
Practice is most certainly needed. Yet we must have a clear understanding of how to properly apply the method.
As the saying goes: “When the bucket is left undisturbed, the mud settles itself.”