Beginning a meditation practice is often accompanied by hope and excitement, imagining oneself living a life more infused with joy and ease. But sticking to that practice day in and day out can be very challenging. Not simply because of the time commitment or the discipline required, but because inevitably at some point, for most people, self-sabotage starts to happen. It all comes down to our sense of self, and how that is challenged by meditation.
We all base our sense of self on a multitude of factors. "I am a dancer, a photographer, an introvert, an extrovert, an empath, a successful person, an unsuccessful person, an abused person, a mother, a young person, a man, a woman, a traveller..." These are all descriptions of our individuality, the most surface layer of ourselves. When we meditate, our awareness dives deep into the unbounded ocean of the self, the part of the self that is bigger than our individuality, so we begin to also identify with that vast, unchanging layer of the self.
As we meditate, that surface definition of self loses its boundaries and clarity. We start expanding. We begin to evolve rapidly which means subjecting ourselves to the creation cycle. Some parts are being created, some maintained and some destroyed in order to make way for that creation. Those parts of the self that are becoming irrelevant go out kicking, knowing they're highlighted for destruction. This is why whenever we have a dramatic shift in consciousness, there almost always a bit of a relapse afterwards. Those parts start to panic, and we go back to our old ways. Even if those parts of the self are the parts we don't like, if we identify with them, it can be very frightening to let them go. When this happens some may mistakenly think their meditation practice is "not working" when really it's that very practice which is putting the spotlight on those areas.
So how do we not let the process of expansion that happens with meditation lead us to sabotage that very progress? The answer is to recognize that there will be inner resistance to keep going with the practice and to keep going anyway. Because a point will come when a large portion of the self identifies with the Big Self making the inner negative voices get quiet enough to be lovingly disregarded. The irrelevant behaviors that keep trying to make a comeback (and some are very stubborn!) diminish in strength until they fall away quietly. And the resistance to the practice will fade until it is no longer an issue. If a meditation gets skipped, there's no cascade of self-defeating thoughts that lead to guilt that leads to aversion to the practice that leads to avoidance. Without thought, you just pick it up again the next day.
Life is experienced with an increasing sense of ease as one becomes more anchored in the unchanging layer of Self. Self-sabotage is no longer necessary as changing careers, getting older, failing at an endeavor, succeeding at an endeavor–these things are no longer frightening as they no longer are definitions of self, just gentle changes on the surface of the ocean.
A little peek into one of my irrelevant behaviors that has yet to fall away completely - keeping too much clutter!