Don't Wait – Meditate
By now, it's likely you've heard all about the benefits of meditation – everything from decreased stress to increased creativity. Better sleep to enhanced productivity. The science is conclusive and I can tell you from experience that adding a consistent practice of meditation to your daily routine is a game changer.
So why do so many of us consistently come up with excuses not to meditate? I'll list some of my favorites – and then give you reasons why they are not valid.
I don't have time.
How long did you spend today watching television, on social media, or scouring the Internet? Enough said.
I can't sit still.
That's the point. In today's environment of constant distraction, we have become used to being comfortable on a moment's notice. We can numb our physical, mental and emotional discomfort with prescriptions, alcohol, social media, or on demand entertainment, 24-7. Part of the practice is to sit with discomfort and witness it without reacting, cultivating the skill of calmness. Where we can be equally content with pain as we can with pleasure. Or, according to Patanjali the sage who wrote the Yoga Sutras – The pairs of opposites cease to exist. If we can do this in meditation, we can do it in traffic, in tense moments at work or in confrontations with loved ones.
See above. Since when did we need to be constantly entertained? Meditation is an opportunity to observe your mind and the incessant neurotic thoughts that continue to pull you outward into a world of reactivity. When the mind settles we begin to see that there is a whole world inside of us that lies beyond our thoughts and emotions. One of unconditional joy and love.
Meditation is simple. But I won't lie to you and tell you it's easy. It's not. Just like any other skill, in the beginning we must dedicate the time and effort into establishing new patterns and techniques. It will be uncomfortable. We must be willing to get frustrated and annoyed and not insist that our practice be perfect. Meditation is never a thing to be perfected. It is a unique experience every time we sit because we are unique beings in every moment. But the more we practice, the more we find that our experience brings us a sense of comfort, peace and contentment. We become comfortable with not doing and simply being.
There are as many styles of meditation out there as there are Starbucks. Meditation studios have been popping up so you can pay someone to help you sit in silence. Like with a personal trainer, it's not that we can't workout or meditate on our own – we can. However, we like and often times need accountability. Just like exercise, the best meditation practice is the one you'll do consistently. So find a style that resonates with you. I will shamelessly suggest some of mine here.
Remember meditation is a practice. Tom Brady didn't run out on the field and start throwing up game winning passes from the start. He practiced. Day in, day out. What was once foreign to him is now habit. Second nature. In a moment, he spontaneously knows what to do and when to do it. Yet, he doesn't cease practicing because he has five Super Bowl rings. He'll continue to show up and do the work likely until he's done with his career. It's the same with meditation. The more we practice, the more we begin to move from a place of spontaneous right action. The less reactive to outside circumstances we become. The less we rely on outer circumstances to bring us joy, peace and contentment. In today's world, we need that more than ever. And unless you decide to no longer play the game of being human, I'd suggest you practice until your last breath.
Of course science has proven all the amazing benefits of meditation and you can look up articles and blogs ad nauseam if you need convincing. However, at the end of the day, any proper description of meditation would fail in its attempt to explain its benefits. To be able to touch the part of ourselves that is unchanging – always light, at peace and in love – is truly indescribable. Every time I try to animate my meditation practice with words, I fail.
It's hard to know what can never truly be known through our thinking mind and only felt from our hearts. Meditation is not a goal to be attained or another achievement we add on our CV. It truly is a gift and when we can see it as such, there is no effort at all.