"It's Not For Me"
If you're a regular reader of my blogs you know I'm a fan of meditation. I've been doing it for over a year now and it's no exaggeration to say it's changed my life. However, when I'm asked about meditation, or I suggest it to people as a possible solution for their anxiety I often hear the same responses:
"I can't do it."
"My mind wanders too much."
"I don't have the time."
Or the best blow off of all...
"It's not for me."
I get it, people don't like change and meditation brings up certain preconceived ideas of what it is. For someone already suffering from anxiety, the added stress of trying something new but unknown can be an added stress they don't want to take on unless it has a very clear upside for them. Which brings me to the next problem...
There's No Manual
We're all different.
Ok, we've all heard that before, who cares?! Well, when it comes to meditation, it's a big deal. Our experience of meditation is going to be as varied as the people who practice it. Since there's no instruction manual for meditation, that makes figuring out if we're "doing it right" hard to do. In a world where we're constantly told to do things a certain way, the lack of explicit instruction with meditation can be daunting.
For example, your experience of meditation could be vastly different to mine. Some might notice changes quickly, some might take longer. Some might be comfortable sitting upright during meditation, some may prefer lying down. Some may find their creative side awakened, others may find they fall asleep before the session is over. There is no one right way to meditate, it's different for all of us. However, let me be clear...
Meditation IS for everyone.
Am I Making Progress?
We live in a results oriented society. We either succeed or fail at something.
You got the job, or you didn't.
You lost weight, or you didn't.
You got a raise, or you didn't.
We've become so black and white about things that we seem to have forgotten that much of life is lived in the grey.
You may not have gotten the job, but did you interview well? Did you learn from your previous interviews and show the best side of yourself?
You may not have lost weight, but have you exercised more? Are you changing the way you view food and how you consume it?
You may not have gotten the raise, but did you demonstrate to your boss how much you deserve one so that you're top of mind for next time?
What this comes down to is...are you making progress?
Meditation spits in the face of our results oriented society. It's understandable to think that we're supposed to completely clear our minds for the entire time we're meditating and that any time we get distracted that we've "failed." Although thinking this way makes complete sense, it doesn't apply to meditation.
To help me make my point, watch this video....
The video above, narrated by Dan Harris, author of 10% Happier, is hands down the best way I've ever heard to explain meditation. It's short, simple and does a perfect job of explaining what meditation does and almost more importantly, what it isn't.
This makes meditation sound like a practice in failure. However, in actuality, it's closer to what Thomas Edison experienced inventing the lightbulb.
If you view meditation through the black or white lenses of our society, you're going to quit. Which brings me to the second half of Edison's quote...
Why does this apply to you? You aren't inventing anything.
Well, meditation is a journey. You're changing the habits of a lifetime, and since we know change doesn't happen overnight, you need to commit to practice, regularly. It took me two weeks of twice daily meditation before I noticed ANY change at all, and when I did, it was slight. It took weeks more before I would get the benefits of better insight, improved physical awareness, more emotional control, significantly improved sleep, etc etc etc.
Like weight loss, meditation is one of those things where you get out what you put into it. If you sit on the couch and stuff your face with pizza, you can't expect lose weight. However, if you bust your arse in the gym and commit to eating a more balanced diet, you'll see the results in your waistline. Similarly, if you commit to meditating twice a day for five to ten minutes each time, you'll notice a difference in your brain. Then you'll want more.
Again, like weight loss, the fact that you've noticed a change in your "mental waistline" so to speak, will motivate you to continue.
That's where the magic happens.
Best of luck!