I am a horrible meditator. I struggle very much to sit still. I love the idea of it, but actually being still and emptying my mind gives me panic attacks. I know a lot of things, I know Buddhists mediate. I know that "meditation is not suppose to hurt, life hurts, meditation is a relief from hurt".
Once while meditating with a sanga (group) my foot fell asleep. I tried to ignore it, but I began to really lose my foot. And with it my mind. I reached down to touch my foot and, honest to god, I thought I was touching someone else's foot. It scared me silly and I began to worry that I might actually never get feeling back in my foot. At this point there was NO meditation happening. It's just me pretending to mediate and trying not to bother others. I was so scared that I was going to lose my foot that I began to sweat and feel sick to my stomach. Sitting still sent me into such a panic that every time I sat on the cushion I would feel ill.
My most recent meditative experience was pretty typical for me. I spent most of the session not actually emptying my mind, but just trying not to jump out of my skin. However that evening I had a moment of dharma clarity. Buddhist teachers always say to be gentle with yourself. Your mind is a toddler running out to a dangerous street. Calmly and patiently keep bringing your toddler-mind back to nothing. My moment of clarity came from watching Ramona toss back and forth, banging her head from side to side. Despite being very tired, she fought sleep. I kept patting her until she gave up, let go and fell asleep. She needed patience and love to get to sleep. I am the same way. Putting my child to sleep is my practice.
"Your life is your practice." - Karen Mazen Miller
Yes, Nova, this life.