There are fairly common positions held by those who do not meditate. There’s a range of specifics but they tend to boil down to a few basic themes:
I don’t have time to meditate
I don’t know how to meditate
I’m not interested in that kind of “stuff”
My mind is too busy…I could never do it
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it is what I hear most. I thought we would pick them apart one by one and examine what is going on.
First, I don’t have time to meditate. I get that we all have busy lives. Most of us can barely get what we need done and often feel overwhelmed and exhausted. Adding a practice to your already busy schedule can seem like a daunting task. In many ways, that first step has to almost be a leap of “faith”.
I believe that one only sees meditation as something low in priority because they have not felt and experienced its effects.
One of my all-time favorite quotes from a student is,
“Our best students don’t have time to practice. They make time to practice!”
If you will commit to a practice for a finite period of time (a month, for example), you WILL feel and notice a tangible difference in your life. Then, you will MAKE the time because you will be able to do the other things so much better.
It is that important. The degree to which your life can improve when you actually take control of it cannot be overestimated. Make the time! If you commit to a practice, it will become so valuable to you that you won’t ever want to let it go. It isn’t, “avoiding work” or being “lazy” to take time for yourself. Whatever it is that you do in your day-to-day life, a sound and still mind will make you better at it. You will be able to work harder, pay more attention to your relationships and be the person you WANT to be…to name just a few benefits.
Second: I don’t know how to meditate. This doesn’t bother me as much because it can be fixed. There is a lot of misinformation out there and you can’t be blamed for not knowing what is what. Check out our May 29th blog for some basic tips to get you started. And as always, I’m here for specific questions.
Third: I’m not interested in that kind of “stuff”. I am not entirely sure what to make of this claim, but I hear it a lot. I think a lot of individuals, men in particular, view anything remotely transcendental or spiritual as too “soft” and not something they’d benefit from. It almost is as if getting closer to your true being would make you “less of a man” or some other ridiculous conclusion. Let me be clear:
Self-discovery and a fundamental understanding of exactly who you are, are the most important things you can accomplish.
There is nothing inherently weak in a quest for self-discovery. In fact, it takes tremendous strength to be able to look inside and come face-to-face with who you really are. A journey towards enlightenment and being a “tough” individual are by no means mutually exclusive. I would suggest putting your toughness to the test and being brave enough to try this practice.
Finally, there are those who think their mind is too busy and they’d never be able to meditate. Often, when people hear about our tests and the meditation requirement they are absolutely genuine when they exclaim, “I could NEVER do that!”
To some extent, they are right.
That person, the one who has never practiced, could not do what we demand of even our low-ranking students. However, what is lost is the fact that no one started by being great. It is an incremental journey that comes through hard work and practice. It will not be easy, but it is worth it. No matter how busy your mind is, begin with the purposeful breathing that we discussed in the “How to Meditate in 4 Easy Steps” blog.
Your mind will wander of course, but you will eventually begin to be able to control it and keep it focused on the breathing.
This is another leap of faith, but it is one you can achieve. I have never met a person who is incapable of ANY concentration. Even those who protest that I don’t understand THEIR mind are somehow able to focus intently on television, video games and their phones. Whatever it is, you CAN concentrate. You simply need to readjust your focus.
Anything other than a lack of knowledge is simply a failure to appreciate the importance of practice. Meditation and mindfulness give you the tools necessary to be the person you want to be, when you want to be that person. A solid practice gives you the ability to respond well. You will be able to deal with your life and feelings on your terms and no longer be a prisoner to some base, emotional reaction. How could this be a practice not worth undergoing?
Remember: this practice will not fix all of the things that are coming in your life. I am not suggesting that meditation will stop chaos from occasionally rearing its head, but you will be able to respond more effectively. You will be able to identify problems that need fixing and FIX THEM. You needn’t live in fear and hope anymore that life will give you a smooth ride. Life will give you opportunities to react and panic, but meditation will give you the tools to be relaxed and to respond well.