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7 Reasons It’s Hard To Meditate

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7 Reasons It’s Hard To Meditate

What is it about something as simple as sitting still and watching our breath that evokes panic, fear, and even hostility? No matter how many reports there are proving the mental, emotional, and physical value of being quiet, there seems to be an even greater number who refuse to give it a try.

Meditation can certainly be challenging, and even more so if we are uncertain as to why we are doing it. It can seem very odd to sit there just listening to the incessant chatter in our head, and we easily get bored if we do nothing for too long, even if it’s only 10 minutes.

After years of hearing a plethora of reasons why people find it hard to meditate, we have whittled it down to just a few:

1. I’m too busy, I don’t have the time. Which can certainly be true if you have young children and a full-time job, and all that these entail. However, we are only talking about maybe 10 minutes a day. Most of us spend more time than that reading the newspaper or idly surfing the web. It only appears like we don’t have the time because we usually fill every moment with activity and never press the pause button.

2. I find it really uncomfortable to sit still for too long. If you are trying to sit cross-legged on the floor then, yes, it will get uncomfortable. But you can sit upright in a firm and comfortable chair instead. Or, you can do walking meditation, or yoga, or tai chi. Moving meditation can be just as beneficial as sitting.

3. My mind won’t stop thinking: I can’t relax. I can’t meditate. I just can’t! My mind will not get quiet; it flies all over the place! My thoughts are driving me mad! I’m trying to get away from myself, not look inside. Sound familiar?

Surprisingly enough, trying to stop your mind from thinking is like trying to stop the wind – it’s impossible. In the Eastern teaching the mind is described as being like a drunken monkey bitten by a scorpion because, just as a monkey leaps from branch to branch, so the mind leaps from one thing to another, constantly distracted and busy. So, when you come to sit still and try to quiet your mind, you find all this manic activity going on and it seems insanely noisy. It is actually nothing new, just that now you are becoming aware of it, whereas before you were immersed in it, unaware that such chatter was so constant.

This experience of the mind being so busy is very normal. Someone once estimated that in any one thirty-minute session of meditation we may have upward of three hundred thoughts. Years of busy mind, years of creating and maintaining dramas, years of stresses and confusion and self-centeredness, and the mind has no idea how to be still. Rather, it craves entertainment. It’s not as if you can suddenly turn it off when you meditate, it just means you are like everyone else.

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Ed and Deb Shapiro

You can learn more in our book, Be The Change: How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Marianne Williamson, Jane Fonda, Ram Dass, Byron Katie and others. Our 3 meditation CD’s: Metta—Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi–Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra–Inner Conscious Relaxation, are available at: EdandDebShapiro.com

263 comments

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4:15AM PDT on Jul 14, 2014

There is a website I visited & she wrote out a little meditation that I love. She imagines the breeze out doors to be the breath of The Creator of All & she inhales the Creator's breath into her lungs. When she exhales she imagines the Creator receiving her exhale as a prayer! http://www.beyewhole.com/enter/what-you-are-seeking-is-seeking-you

1:24AM PST on Dec 20, 2013

I find many benefits to meditation even though I'm not the best at it. I find that many of the excuses/reasons, you describe are mine as well. I love that you mentioned that there is no right or wrong, no special technique-- all of this is helpful to know. Thank you!

10:53AM PST on Nov 26, 2013

This is an excellent article--thanks so much. I've been meditating for 20 years now and still trip over all of these excuses and these issues. But I keep at it rather doggedly, some times relishing it, other days finding it discouraging and yet being aware that this is part of the process of developing insight and some wisdom into the ways and wiles of my mind!

11:57PM PDT on Oct 31, 2013

Personal space and time, no matter how minimal, allows you to relax, release, revisit and come out fresh and new. Well worth the investment no matter what else is going on around you.

5:14AM PDT on Oct 7, 2013

Its so sad but I'm just not able to meditate nowadays. You have to have the right state of mind for that to some extent and reasons like this make it impossible. I'm also worried about being disturbed by others.

5:01AM PDT on Oct 7, 2013

Many people say that meditation is difficult. You say that you work in high pressure job and it’s difficult to find time for meditation. It’s because you just don’t know the benefits. It helps in improving your concentration and productivity means indirectly it adds hours to your day as because of your work gets done on a faster basis. In short, meditation can help in getting relaxed and take faster decisions which help you in feeling comfortable. Besides, this it help bring about a resolution to conflicts.

7:20AM PDT on Oct 6, 2013

I recommend visiting beyewhole.com - this person's message on meditation has been very practical and helpful, for me -^.^-

6:20AM PDT on Oct 3, 2013

I find keeping at it is the difficult part - I forget or something comes up. Like the idea of doing it every night before bed - thanks, Angela R!

5:47PM PDT on Oct 1, 2013

Thank you.

9:40AM PDT on Sep 24, 2013

Thanks.

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