Why meditate when it can be so difficult?
It is often difficult to answer this question when the experience of meditation is so personal. Some of the more common responses from my students, after a long silence, are:
Meditation helps me return to my center, my Self.
My day just flows better when I meditate.
It brings me to that place where I feel my connection to All, and I feel at peace.
Meditation reminds me to be a human being, not a human doing.
Meditation is a time for me to pray and renew my practice of surrendering to God.
Although it is difficult, it gives me the experience of being in the present moment.
It helps bring balance to my life, and reduce stress.
It is a chance to listen to my own inner wisdom.
Meditation connects me to the Universal flow, rather than my own illusion of control.
Meditation brings me freedom from my stressful thoughts-liberation and relief!
I flow from a different energy when I meditate. Things don't bother me as much.
Meditation is time to fill my vessel so I can give to others.
When I meditate, I rediscover a feeling of gratitude.
After I meditate answers I've been looking for seem to come out of nowhere.
I spend all day thinking with my head. Meditation quiets my mind and I feel peaceful.
So, what makes meditation difficult?
1. It might very well be our belief that it should be easy! What if we compared the practice of meditation to learning an instrument like the piano. It is rather easy to understand that in order to be a skilled pianist, we have to practice every day. And if we stop for awhile, it might take some practice to get back into our groove.
2. Meditation is actually simple, but not easy. What is simple is that meditation is just the practice of "being with what is". There is nothing to do! What is difficult is that we resist what is, and have difficulty releasing control. Our mind has many stories it likes to tell, and to guide it gently to relax is a bit like asking a puppy dog to sit still.
3. Meditation brings us to the present moment with our feelings. Taking on a meditation practice is a commitment to wanting to know the truth. A lot of our uncomfortable thoughts and feelings get pushed down in our attempts to run away from them. In meditation there is no judgment of our thoughts and feelings, but a witnessing of how our mind thinks. This witnessing brings us to an authentic place, and most people find that their suffering falls away as the old thoughts can no longer survive next to the truth. The Yoga analogy is that unhelpful behaviors and thoughts then fall away like ripe fruit from a tree-at the right time and without effort.
Meditation is a practice, just like life. If we try for no striving and just being, it's a piece of cake! Each time we sit it is an opportunity to simply be present with reality as it is, including ourselves in our perfect imperfection. Because these ideas are not currently cultivated and supported in our daily lives and culture, the simple experience can be quite profound.
There are different meditation practices, as well as different experiences of meditation. With practice you can discover what works for you.
Peace and be well,