Meditation is an old chestnut of a dilemma currently causing consternation in our new age world of wellbeing, new world faith and spiritualism. Some of us feel we should be doing it, some of us think there must be something in it, but can’t seem to do it and some of us simply can’t see the point.
I don’t want to persuade you one way or another, to make you see or believe my point of view, but the benefits are steeped in factual evidence that speaks for itself. So perhaps it might help to unpack this old chestnut in terms of why people give up meditating after a few go’s and what might happen if you persevere?
Giving Up Is Easy
Why then do many people think they know the benefits of mediation, decide to give it a go but don’t last very long? One or two attempts, maybe four or five and then they stop. It’s because meditating can be really challenging.That’s the short answer.
Sitting on a cushion with your eyes shut might sound really simple, but actually it can be tough going. Sitting still for 15 minutes without itching, scratching or shuffling around in your seat is difficult. And how about doing it all cross legged on the floor? Even harder still.
Very often new students find it almost impossible to sit still and focus on one thing for maybe six to eight minutes. Let me reassure you that this is quite normal so if that’s been your experience so far, take heart. As a rookie meditator don’t feel that you have to sit for 45 minutes, in a blissed out state of One-ness, dreaming about rainbows and unicorns. It takes practice, it’s even called meditation practice, because it takes time and effort to learn the skill, the skill of sitting still and paying attention to a simple thing (very often the breath) without the need to clutter our mind with anything else. So we start small with five to ten minutes at a time.
In our busy 2018 lives we lead here in the West, we are accustomed to things happening almost instantaneously, right now, straight away. We’ve lost the ability to be patient and allow things to unfold or for things to naturally develop in their own time. And if you sit and meditate, sometimes nothing happens, there is no great revelation or light bulb moment of self-learning. Sometimes we sit and the mind is so busy that all we feel is that we’ve sat down and ‘thought about things for a while’. Then there comes the other times, when you find yourself in this wonderful calm, contented feeling, where everything feels open and expansive in the mind and you can come to know yourself in such a way that you couldn’t learn in an intellectual or cognitive way. This is where the benefits lie, when we find a moment of peace, as if someone has pressed the pause button and clarity comes to see our behaviours in a new light thus enabling us to learn more about ourselves.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom” famously said Aristotle and with meditation practice comes a knowing, or learning about yourself. When we live in auto-pilot, just doing things because that’s how you’ve always done them, can be fine way of operating in some instances but not every single time. Sure, I learn that a door with a handle generally is a pull or a push mechanism. This means I don’t have to revaluate a situation every time I come across a door however to know that you often react with intolerance when you’re stressed or your initial reaction to criticism is shame, guilt or hopelessness might give you the chance to choose a different emotional response next time.
When the person at the checkout is taking too long to pay, maybe you notice it’s you being stressed that’s causing the problem, not them fiddling about trying to find the right change. Or when your boss gives you some constructive criticism you might find you can enjoy the benefit of their knowledge and mentoring and take the new knowledge to help you in your job role rather than scuttling off and crying in the stationery cupboard.
Just like your iPhone software needs updating, or your Windows 10 is a much improved way of running your laptop, so the same goes for learning about yourself. Just because that’s what you’ve always done doesn’t mean it’s the best, or the only way. You can change and with allowing yourself the time to notice, to pay attention, in some quiet time for reflection we can look in on ourselves and see where these changes might be made. That’s meditation.
The next Six Week Course for Beginners starts on 21st February 2018. Click here to read more…