Meditation is one of the most beneficial practices there are but many people struggle with it. Why is it that something so simple as sitting still and watching our breath can be such a challenge? Why is it so difficult to meditate?
There are lots of reasons why we struggle to meditate as anyone who has tried will agree. From the discomfort of sitting cross-legged to the irritation of having a mind that jumps all over the place. We’ve all suffered from one or two of these challenges at some time or another.
We’re Addicted To Stress
The brutal truth is that most of us are addicted to stress. We hate to sit still because we need constant stimulation. We need a jolt of coffee. We need to check our email. We need to see if someone’s liked our instagram photo. All these little buzzes fire up our nervous system and we love it. We’re addicted to that sensation and we hate to let it go even for a few moments.
We’re Scared Of Missing Out
This goes hand in hand with our addiction to stress. If we’re sitting doing nothing then many of us feel that the world is passing us by. Gary Vaynerchuck is hustling so we should be too. We’ve got a funny idea that we really need to tweet this minute. Has that hot girl from work replied to that text yet? Better check the phone. Has Kino Macgregor posted a new video today? What’s on TV?
The thought of missing out on what everyone else is up to fills us with dread. So much so that many people spend more time watching, liking and talking about other people doing meditation or yoga or anything for that matter than doing it themselves.
We’re Scared Of Our Own Thoughts
One of the first things you notice when you try to meditate is how busy your mind it. How much it jumps around, what it conjures up, what it gets stuck on and obsessed with. Like a tormented monkey that can’t sit still or let go of what’s upsetting him.
And our reaction to that torment is… make it stop! We don’t like the experience and instead of being patient enough to let it settle in it’s own time, we give up.
Through meditation we get to know who we really are and some people aren’t comfortable with that reality.
Meditation Is Difficult
It’s not easy to sit still. It’s not easy to let go of your thoughts. It’s not easy to find peace of mind in a chaotic and stimulating world. And most people don’t like things that aren’t easy.
We want to be enlightened and spiritual and zen-like but we’d rather just pay for it than be patient and do the work that’s required to get there.
But the things that have the most value in life are often the most difficult to learn.
The Benefits Only Come With Practice
It’s easy to conclude that meditation has no benefits or it doesn’t work for you after a 60 second attempt that didn’t go the way you wanted. But the same applies to learning anything.
What would you get from 60 seconds of guitar practice? Not much. You wouldn’t even benefit from a one off 60 minute session. The benefits accrue after days, months and years of practice.
And the more you invest the more you get out of it.
You enjoy things far more when you are good at them. You understand things far more when you do them often (daily). You access deeper levels of feeling and awareness and flow when you move towards mastery.
It’s true with guitar as it is with meditation.
Final Thoughts: Make Meditation A Habit
Meditation is difficult, there’s no doubt about that but if you can get beyond that initial boredom and discomfort of being still then you will open up a whole new world of creativity and self-awareness.
Start with short sessions, just 2-5 minutes a day, then gradually increase the duration when you are ready. As you get better and more comfortable you will enjoy it more and will want to continue for longer.
The benefits of meditation are clear. The effects on our well being, mental acuity and outlook on life are widely researched and well documented. We just need to make it a daily habit.
Half an hour’s meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed. – Saint Francis de Sales
IMAGE: PETER THOENY