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Meditation Not Working

by (Private)
(Cape Town, South Africa)

I'm having unsatisfactory meditations; nothing seems to be happening as it should be. I used to do Transcendental Meditation but I hated my mantra. I was delighted to find Conscious Mental Rest and enjoyed the change. Now that doesn't seem to be working anymore.

It's so frustrating. Things were going so well. Now all of a sudden I feel as if I am not even meditating -- just sitting there with lots going on in my mind.

Gavin's response:

The above comments (paraphrased by me to put them down in written form) were said to me by someone this week, here in Cape Town. So, I'd like to summarise my response to this person's concerns and frustrations.

Some of this may sound like a gramophone record, but experience has shown that after using CMR for some time - as with using a meditation technique - we sometimes forget one or two subtle yet important points.

Forget about what happens during CMR

Remember, I said during the course, we do not mind what happens during a CMR session. Once we 'sit down on the bench in the shopping mall', we cannot control what happens around us. The same principle applies during CMR. Our sole role is:
  • Start the session with the intention to allow the mind to rest.

  • Don't worry about what is happening in the mind (thoughts, feelings, etc.); don't pay attention to it.

  • When we notice that we are engaged in the process of thinking - when I am involved in the content of the thoughts taking place in my mind - that's our cue to return easily to the comfort zone, as explained during the course, and then let go.

That is the entire CMR method that we ourselves are to be involved in. Everything else is mind-body rest and normalisation taking place. Some call it stress release.

In sleep, the mind-body system undertakes similar adjustments and rejuvenation processes. We ourselves don't get consciously involved. The same principle applies during Conscious Mental Rest.

Just follow the course instructions

So, forget about what you think should be happening during CMR, and simply follow those very simple instructions.

What is most like happening during these so-called unsatisfactory sessions is that there is currently a lot of restructuring taking place: stresses being released, and so on. This activity is reflected in the mind that feels as if it is very active throughout the session.

This is actually good news, although it may not feel as if it is. If you don't become aware that you yourself are engaged in the thinking of thoughts, then that indicates that what is happening is in fact overshadowing that realization.

That's fine. If there's no cue to return to the comfort zone, that is just how it is. It means the restructuring process needs more time to finish this particular episode. When it is done, you will get that cue again, and can easily come back to the comfort zone. However, that cue may not come during this particular session. Remember this.


Now here's a critically important thing to remember. Whatever happens or does not happen during your CMR session, you are still having session of Conscious Mental Rest. Do not simply stop and get up because you think it is a waste of time. Always, always, always follow the correct ending-off procedure. And in a situation such as the one described by this person, rather stretch the 2+1 ending to 3+2, or even 3+5 or longer.

Don't worry about your 'unsatisfactory' sessions. That is just how they might 'feel' for a while. If you follow the correct procedure during your sessions, and for ending the session (always), CMR is in fact 'working' for you.

~ Gavin

PS: As it happened, this person had experienced a very stressful few days during this particular week, which would suggest that her CMR sessions were indeed being taken up with some serious stress-dissolving activity.

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