"If it wasn't for my mind, my meditation would be excellent."
- Pema Chodron
"How hard could it be to meditate?" This is a question asked by many who have yet to sit for the first time. You may think that during your day you sit and do nothing, but if you truly tune out all the background noise you will probably find that you are actually chattering constantly away in the back of your mind. And it will soon become obvious as to how many petty thoughts you think in one day and how much resistance those thoughts bring to the simple act of sitting in silence.
Our little mind resists meditation and will throw out a whole bunch of reasons as to why you cannot take the time to meditate. It is worth being aware of some of the common forms of resistance so that you can move beyond them.
1) "There are too many responsibilities to attend to in life." The funny thing is we can ignore these responsibilities throughout the rest of our day, but we have to sit and meditate and suddenly now we have thoughts that tell us we should be doing this or that. You are only dedicating a few minutes to meditation to start with, those responsibilities will get met later on in the day. Make a promise to your chatty mind that you will address it later. Meditation is your responsibility to yourself.
2) Nasty negative emotions and thoughts seem to arise a whole lot more. When we meditate we oftentimes surface the various parts of ourselves that need our healing attention. Anything that is in the way of feeling calm and peaceful is going to surface for you to release. This can be a reason that many people want to avoid meditation, to avoid those raw feelings. Sometimes they release during the meditation, sometimes they do not. If you are finding that some strongly negative feelings are emerging, be sure to speak with a counsellor or therapist who can help you. These feelings do not indicate that your meditation is not working. On the contrary they are telling you that it is working very well.
3) Our chatty little mind would have us believe that sitting and meditating is not going to benefit us. The days when we least want to meditate, the days when that voice is the loudest, are the days when you will probably experience the most profound breakthroughs in your meditation. You will have those days, we all do. Even those of us who have been at it for years. On those days insist that you do it, breathe through the resistance and the turbulent thoughts. This is like the mental and emotional resistance to a tough workout, you will be grateful afterwards.
4) "Nothing has changed in my life, it cannot be working." Meditating will not suddenly make you richer, more successful or better looking. Sure, some of these things may occur over time as a result of the awareness that comes with meditation. But the true value of meditation is who we become in the process. It is easy to measure tangible changes in our outer world, not so easy to measure the changes that happen within us. Instead of looking and expecting your outer world to change, be aware of some of the subtle changes within yourself that others may be mentioning. Are you kinder? More gentle? More calm? Less anxious? These are all very positive experiences that come with long-term practice.
5) Our ego resists the joy it does not understand. Joy and happiness come through a choice to allow them in. Our resistance to meditation could be our resistance to allowing those states of being in our life. Maybe you had religious conditioning that said you did not deserve it, or societal beliefs that it is not possible, or fears you yourself generated through life experience. To your ego mind, life as it knows it is comfortable. Life as it does not know it is uncomfortable. So not only is your mind resisting the negative thoughts and emotions, it is resisting the positive feelings of joy and happiness. "It is our light not our darkness, that scares us." Famous words from Marianne Williamson. Remember that your thoughts of fear are not always fearing the bad, but sometimes fearing the good that is unknown to the ego.
Resistance is bound to come up, but it is only the part of you that resists the change that is speaking up. Beyond that resistance lies the very experience you are seeking for in meditation. I have been meditating for years, and now I sit for 90 minutes at a time. Sometimes I experience total peace, other times my little mind wants to yap away out of discontent.
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