People who have meditated, in whatever capacity, usually notice something worthwhile.
Yet, many lapse in their meditation practice.
I find this very interesting, particularly because it includes myself.
As far as I can see, for an established meditator, there are 3 basic “reasons” for not meditating:
- Not enough time
- No noticeable changes
- Emotional upheaval
1. The Time Factor
Some who meditate feel guilty about wasting time.
If you have other responsibilities like work, family, and other recreational activities then it’s easy to feel like you “should be doing something else”.
It feeds and is fed by a sense of anxiety.
Funnily, this is precisely what meditation has the potential to alleviate.
Even 12 minutes per day.
There is a quip in meditation circles:
If you don’t have time to meditate for 12 minutes a day, meditate for 24 minutes.
You can replace the times. The point is if you don’t think you have time, that’s when you need to create time.
Meditation actually creates time.
With more regular meditation practice and the resultant mindfulness throughout the day, you can think more clearly, make better & quicker decisions, and experience a higher level of success.
It might seem like meditating slows you down but actually it speeds you up and creates time.
Take time for yourself. It is worth it.
And this leads to the second reason…
2. No Noticeable Changes
When it comes down to raw essentials, meditation is just watching your breath, your thoughts, coming back to your breath, being aware of sensations in the body with the aim of not feeling attached to any of it, positive or negative.
It can often seem the same every day.
It is and it isn’t.
The practice is essentially the same but your body and mind will both be in a different state each day.
If you are feeling flat in your meditation, like there are no big changes happening, it doesn’t mean “nothing is happening.”
It is sometimes good to briefly follow a guided meditation or listen to someone talking about meditation to help re-focus your mind.
Often it is to just continuing to breathe and observe.
Either way, it is important to remember:
Regular, consistent, daily practice is key.
At a very mathematical, logical level, we can understand the momentum of practicing every day from something James Clear points out in Atomic Habits:
If you get one percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. This is why small choices don’t make much of a difference at the time, but add up over the long-term.
If you feel like you are not “getting better” in your meditation practice know the only way you aren’t getting better is if you don’t show up.
Again, guided meditation or just listening to someone talk about meditation can help.
Everything is always changing, sometimes we just don’t notice.
3. Emotional Upheaval
This is kind of the opposite of the last reason.
That is, there is too much change going on for you.
Depending on how deep we are in our meditation practice journey, our own particular issues, the context of our living environment and our emotional state, what meditation brings to the surface can sometimes feel like too much.
We have a choice here to either:
- Take a short break from our meditation practice; or
- Continue and remain as equanimous as possible – not reacting to thoughts, feelings, perceptions we are having
If you are fortunate enough to be experiencing some fundamental changes as a result of your meditation practice, it’s a great incentive to keep coming back to it — even if, in the moment, it requires your conscious, mindful attention.
Why Should We Meditate?
Mindful attention to keep a consistent meditation practice will, in turn, improve your mindfulness.
If you have the ability to be mindful and come back to your breath, it acts as an anchor in dealing with any challenges you may face in life.
However, for me, that kind of talk begins to feel overwhelming. That’s when I re-focus my mind on just doing 12 minutes of meditation today.