I have this friend who said to me, “I want to come to meditation, but I’m just really bad at meditating!”
And that really got me thinking. I think we’re all bad at meditating. I know I am.
I’m starting a weekly meditation group and I’m pretty excited about it. One of the reasons I’m doing that is to give other people a really welcoming environment for meditation practice and to give a lot of encouragement. But another reason I’m doing it is…well, nothing inspires you to meditate quite like inviting other people to do it with you. I really believe that.
So, the truth is I think we’re all pretty bad at meditating.
Here is a traditional list of some challenges people have in meditation.
Laziness manifests in several different ways. One example is, “I’m not going to meditate because I don’t feel like it.” Another is “I could meditate but I have all these other things to do” and that can apply to many things we need to do, like meal planning or cleaning the house, but it can also apply to things we want to do—“I would meditate, but I have so much to watch on Netflix.”
Essentially anything that we use as an excuse to not meditate could be considered a form of laziness. I have this. I’m really good at doing chores around the house instead of meditating. Things need to get done, of course, but all of us have 10 minutes a day of free time. I believe that.
Agitation usually manifests as fidgeting. Feeling like we have to adjust our position repeatedly, having a lot of difficulty getting comfortable, itchy sensations happening all over. These are forms of agitation. Also, I’ve found that I can go through my day and feel normal, but suddenly when I sit down to meditate my clothes are uncomfortable. They were probably uncomfortable the whole day, but once I’ve sat down to just be present, it’s like they don’t fit right at all.
Ill will is the one I don’t really struggle with personally, but I’ve heard of it. It’s where you just hate meditation. We get on the cushion, sit down and just hate every second and wait for it to be over. Some of that is, that meditation forces us to be real. We sometimes don’t want to be real; we want to be distracted and unmindful. We want to avoid self reflection.
Meditation can force us to face some thought we may be trying to bury deep. That can be uncomfortable.
The truth is that meditation is like flossing. It’s something that we know is good for us, and we just don’t do it. We don’t want to, so we don’t. It takes great determination to have a sustained practice. The best thing to do is attend a meditation group or start one. If you can do it on your own without any support, that’s great, but most of us have a lot of difficulty with that.
Having some other people on the path with you helps. And nothing will get us motivated quite like putting ourselves into situations where we have to do it.