Why is it so hard to Meditate?
It’s a starting problem. Just like a starting problem with your car, repeatedly turning the ignition key, hoping that eventually the engine will fire up is just like sitting repeatedly in meditation and getting interrupted by thoughts and distractions. You feel like procrastinating and it is difficult to see the source of the problem.
It’s a how to problem. It is frustrating to see others prescribing to a specific practice and claiming its the easiest way to go about it. Why is it so easy for them and so hard for me? What am I not doing?
It’s a concentration problem. When reactionary thoughts and anxieties crowd our mind, forget it. How am I supposed to concentrate when all I can think about this issue or this work that I have to do?
It’s a time management problem. I just don’t have time to do it.
These are just a few scenarios that may play out in your mind if you have trouble meditating. These are all silent decisions that we are making to say meditation is hard for me, meditation is pointless, or I tried and it didn’t work for me. The more we yield to this type of thinking the more frustrating it can be.
Practice does not make perfect?
Okay, I am not here to advocate that practice is not required in the pursuit of meditation. Keep in mind just as our connection to our experiences changes with maturity, wisdom, vulnerability, and honesty, so does our practice. This means that our practice can and will change with the phases of life that we are currently experiencing. It is easy to have a very strong practice and then suddenly have to abandon it. Returning from a gap of months, years even, can significantly change the way you practice.
When I was single and not working, I used to have a very deep meditation practice that I followed strictly. Once my mother passed, I lost this practice. It stopped making sense. Then I started up again under the guidance of a teacher. Even though I could not attend the classes every week, I developed a strong enough connection with the group that it was easy to connect back to my practice upon returning. However, once I got married and had a child, my entire focus shifted and my practice fell away. Sleep became elusive. My thoughts became scattered and my emotions were all over the place. Meditation was the furthest thing from my mind, but it was also my sanctuary, when I could carve out a few minutes to practice. This is also the time I realized that it was easier for me to zone out and develop very heightened level of concentration for brief intervals of time. Everything I did became more meaningful and insightful. I was able to tap into my intuition and connect with my source without forcing it. It became automatic and instinctive. This is the maturity and wisdom that was unlocked from the vulnerability of my situation.
I have started over many times. I have changed my practice many times. My practice is constantly evolving and I use it as a tool to help me to connect to my experiences. What do I mean by connecting to experiences? No matter what I am going through in my mind, body, or emotions, I use meditation as a tool to help me process these complexities. Just as the brain uses dreams to process our waking experiences passively during rest, meditation increases awareness and shifts our perceptions actively when we are awake .
Reflect, Resound, and React?
When we choose to draw our attention inward, we become aware of the impact our thoughts have on our inner and outer experiences. When we react as the observer, seeing these experiences without judgement, they shift our awareness of this environment.
So keep it simple and do what you can, working your way up from just sitting in your thoughts to slowly developing comfort staying still.
Then turn your attention inwards using your breath. Whether you try various forms of pranayama, navy seal box breathing, or your own natural breath flow, allow your attention to stray from your thoughts by focusing on the breath.
Optionally, take time to extend your guided practice by sitting quietly for a few minutes after the lesson has ended. Using this time to allow whatever inspiration or peacefulness to flow to you.
Finally, once you are comfortable and ready to find space to meditate on your terms, create your own meditation routine anywhere, anyplace, and anytime.
Writer, Technologist, and Meditation Coach