I've found that one of the biggest hurdles I have to overcome before meditating or trancing is dealing with stress. If I have a lot on my plate or recently experienced a stressful situation, I feel less motivated to meditate. If I somehow convince myself to try for the sake of piety and practice, I then have to figure out what to do with my stress to calm my body down. For awhile I was trying a couple different methods - relaxing each part of my body individually or visualizing a river where all of my stress went into and flowed away.
Recently I've been trying something new that resonates with me and works very well. Those of you who know me know that I have a thing for fire. I'm a Sagittarius after all! I started to visualize a bonfire in my meditation. I imagine my stress floating into the fire like bits of paper which then burn up and float away into nothingness. Nothing has been quite as helpful to me as this method.
How do you deal with stress in meditation?