Why it is so hard to have a regular meditation practice?
Meditation is an exercise for our minds. We use our minds all day so we don’t think that it needs more workout. But it does need a further care. Imagine jumping all day, every day. That’s not good for the body. You need to stretch and flow as well and most importantly you need to let the body rest. Same goes for the mind. In our daily lives we usually use our minds in the survival mode. It is alert, it is aware of the things happening outside, planning, working quickly etc… It is basically jumping all day. It’s so used to working like this that it actually doesn’t know how to slow down.
Meditation is training our mind to be calm, to be present, to focus to the inner world, to stop getting distracted by sense impulses.
All these can be the whole aim of the meditation or you can reach for higher aims through meditation. A higher aim might be liberation or transcendence or connection with the universe. Regardless of the ultimate goal, the first step will always be the calming of the mind.
When we say meditation the first image that comes to mind is a person sitting in the lotus position, very steady, very peaceful. This image comes with two immediate misconceptions about meditation. First, you need to be flexible. Second, meditation is inherently peaceful and calm. Neither of them are true.
The position of the body is important for the meditation.
The spine needs to be straight and still comfortable. If your body is flexible, it is easier to sit comfortably in meditation. So yes, flexibility helps but there are a lot of sitting positions that would not require flexibility. You may sit upright on a chair for example. Also there are many different meditation techniques that can be done in any position even while moving like mindfulness meditation. So no, not being flexible is not the thing that makes meditation so challenging.
Meditation doesn’t immediately begin with a sense of serenity.
We expect to feel peaceful and calm as soon as we start meditating. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case, and not a permanent one. And believe me that expectation is what makes everything more challenging. We are all living in very fast environments and our mind are accordingly overactive. We first need to accept that calming down is a challenge for our minds. It is something that it forgot how to do. Through meditation our minds first understand that it is okay to calm down, then it remembers how to do it.
The mind is used to battle for our survival, so it has a lot of defense mechanisms against calming down.
When you are in a survival mode you have no time to stop and take care of your emotional wounds. When you calm down, those emotional wounds will start showing up from the depths of your consciousness. You will feel bored, you will come up with a lot of reason to skip meditation, you will find a lot of distractions, it will be itchy, an ant will walk on you, there will be an annoying sounds coming from outside, your back will feel uncomfortable. And all those things are alright. Those are the things that you need to go through to have a regular mediation practice. Through your practice of meditation, you will find a way to feel serene in the middle of all those things.
A lot of people come out of their first meditation attempt feeling frustrated.
The key is not to have any particular expectations from your meditation. Don’t expect it to be easy, don’t expect it to be challenging. Just be, and just take an attitude of an observer who does not judge, who does not engage. Meditation a lot of practice demands patience and dedication but it is totally worth it.