Meditation is "much ado about nothing." It's hard for us to wrap our minds around it because it's a deviation from all the other activities in our life. It is a space where we deliberately allow ourselves the chance to stop. No more performing, no more doing, just feeling into our present experience and noticing what's there.
One of the biggest hurdles we must move past in meditation is treating it like a game to be won, or an achievement to be earned. I hate to break it to you, but you already won. You are you. That's the whole game, set, and match.
Stop spending your time trying to meditate the right way. There is no ultimate experience or way to be. If there was a goal to meditation it would be continually on the horizon. When you meditate, you are simply observing your experience and favoring the positive, resilient, life-supporting ones. Hint: They're different for everyone.
Whether you believe it or not, you know the best way to be you. In fact, you already know how to meditate in a way that is congruent with your being. The confusion begins when you think you need to do it a certain way, or you need a certain experience to prove you're doing it right. Or maybe you get sucked into all that shit from the day... the week... or the year... These experiences are inevitable when you meditate (and it's good to clear that shit out), but they certainly don't have to be the norm. Each time you practice it's a remembrance of you who are. We remember through the deliberate use of a mantra.
The mantra is a tool. It is a guy wire that helps to stabilize you in your practice. Ultimately, however, it is unimportant. If you get stuck thinking you're not good at staying with the mantra, relax. You don't need the mantra. Simply release into the feeling of peace, ease, and joy that lives deep in your heart. There's no mantra required down there. When you meditate, you are consciously doing nothing. You are letting yourself be and attuning to a frequency of rest and rejuvenation.
An analogy that was used when I first began meditating was dying a cloth. Each day, you dip the cloth into a bucket of dye. You completely infuse it in your color of choice.
You hang the cloth to dry when you go off to your activities for the day. When you return home, however, you notice the sun has bleached it back to white.
Unperturbed, you try again the next day. You dye it, hang it out to dry, and let the sun bleach it. This time, however, a little of the color has stayed. Just a touch...
After years of this practice, the cloth becomes darker and darker.
Eventually, it is the color of the dye. In fact, it has become so infused with the color that the sun can't even bleach it anymore. The cloth and the dye have become one.
When you meditate, you are the cloth and the mantra is the dye. Daily, you get to dip yourself into a bucket of yourself. Soak it up. Just make sure it's something you'd like to soak in!
When you go back into the world, you allow yourself to be bleached. You'll get knocked off track and you will "forget yourself." The next day, however, you start again. You remember who you are again. The best part is that this process is very enjoyable. It feels good and it will call you back.
Just imagine what could happen after a lifetime of practice?
And yes, some days the sun will be brighter and it will bleach you out faster. Some days the rain will pour and you'll feel like you didn't even dye the cloth. Don't get hung up on these experiences. Each time you practice you look for the joy; you look for the effortless quality of drifting in a sea of yourself. No book, no video, no class, nor lecture will give this to you. My teacher always said "don't trust me, Adam. Look for yourself..." And boy, am I sure glad I did.