I was talking to my sisters about how meditation is like golf. "Say what?", you say. Yes, golf. If you've played for any length of time you'll know how absolutely frustrating the game is. You plan it all out, line up your stance, angles, club - eye it all up thinking, "This is gonna be sweet". And there it goes..... in the rough. Then you're furious with yourself, wondering how you managed to mess up that shot so badly. Which, of course, messes up the next shot, etc... There's lots of time between holes to think about how you stuffed up, to get involved in some rather unpleasant self-talk that leads to a whole host of emotions that make you swear you're going to give up the game entirely because, clearly, "you aren't good enough for it!" At the time, you're just angry. Later, when the game's over and there's a bit of distance from it, you can see how it all went down and how you talked yourself into how it all went down. But every once in a while you somehow manage to hit the most beautiful shot and that one moment keeps you going back for more... until the next shot which lands in the sand pit and the cycle starts all over again.
I've had some beautiful, blissful meditation practices.....and a whole lot of thought-bouncing, distracted ones that essentially were in the rough. We get attached to the practices that hit the 'sweet spot' of inner peace and calm. And I think it's ok to get attached to them, to want them and use them to heal you up - to use meditation to bring peace to a not so peaceful life. But we must remind ourselves that we are not "bad meditators" because we've had a distracted practice, that we are not "bad people" because that ball went into the pond.
Continuity of practice is key - continual witnessing of all the self-talk, self-judgement, the planning and hoping, the anger, the disappointment, all the thoughts flying here and there until we can see how it's all going down - how the mind works. Meditation gives us a new perspective. In witnessing we see that not only are we not our thoughts, we are not the thinker of those thoughts either. Meditation helps us step away from the thinker, the analyser, the player (as well as step away from the thoughts and emotions felt by that thinker and emoter) so we can step into our true essence as simple, pure welcoming witnessing presence. Knowing yourself as That, the game is just the game, the practice is just the practice and there's no attachment to how it all turns out.