I’ve got bad news, folks. Meditation is not easy.
“Easy” is watching cat videos on the internet.
Meditation is tough.
If you’re just becoming interested in meditation, then this may be either an absolute relief to hear, or you may find it totally discouraging.
Searching for a secret to meditation — like a 5-minute meditation that will fix everything that ails you — is a fine place to begin. If you’re new to meditation, please jump on board with whatever technique is exciting to you! But it’s not realistic as a complete panacea.
Any meditation is totally better than no meditation, so I don’t want to make you quit before you’ve even begun. But recognizing what REAL meditation is can be super helpful.
Meditation is about going away. It’s about you STOPPING.
That may sound really weird and even hard to completely grasp intellectually — and that’s OK. When you meditate, you are not actually doing the meditation.
That’s what I mean when I say that you stop.
You can try to stop — but you won’t succeed. You can try to get quiet, and it’ll help, for a moment or two. Your brain will settle down and may even go into a lull.
But it’ll be temporary. That’s one thing you can count on: Your brain will very quickly start to generate thoughts.
There’s this idea out there that everybody is being mindful and everyone is successful with meditation every morning.
But here’s the truth:
If you meditate AT ALL then you’re being successful with it!
The actual experience of meditation may feel rocky and even frustrating. It is not easy to do!
If you’re doing a meditation that you find to be “easy” then I wonder if you’re really meditating? Or are you just taking time to relax, and drift in your thoughts, and do some daydreaming?
There’s nothing wrong with any of that. But it’s not meditation.
When you’re meditating — or let me be more precise, when you’re trying to meditate — then you’ll need to exert some effort. You need to be present. You need to be alert to the natural drift, where the thoughts take you off into another illusion.
When that happens, then you don’t punish yourself or criticize. You just notice it happened, and come back to your point of meditation.
The reason it’s not “easy” is because this is a constant. This cycle repeats over and over. It totally does become easier — in that, you’ll get used to the cycle, and understand that, ‘Oh, right, I’m supposed to be meditating,” and more quickly come back to your point of focus.
But the thoughts will continue to come, and that’s OK.
At first, the experience of that onslaught of thoughts may even make you want to quit. That’s one reason why I say that meditation is never easy. When you’re first starting out — or, heck, for the first few years, probably — there may be a lot of frustration, and wondering if you’re even doing it right. That’s really common, and if you just keep at it, then you’ll find that it changes.
But stopping your thoughts being easy? Nah.
What’ll end up happening is that your practice of daily meditation will result in fewer thoughts showing up in the first place. But that won’t be you doing it. If you try to assert your will against the stream of thoughts, you’re gonna lose. 🙂
So please don’t expect this to be easy — and then if ever it is, if you’re taken by surprise by some glorious amazing incredible sense of peace that steals over you unexpected during a meditation, then you’ll marvel at the gift of it. And the next day, go back to your mat, and be OK if it’s a struggle again.
Because it’s always worth it. Your life will change. Everything is manageable when you have meditation as your foundation.
But easy? Nah. Don’t worry about easy. Just worry about doing it, and you’ll be set up for the win.