We know we “should” meditate–tons of physical, emotional, and mental benefits have been documented. We can lower blood pressure and cardiovascular health, improve outcomes for a host of medical treatments, relieve depression and anxiety, improve concentration and mental function, and more and more…but somehow we just can’t seem to commit to the practice. Disciplined in so many other areas, why are we blocked from the discipline of meditation? We know we can benefit from as little as 10 minutes. The questions remains: how to commit to meditate?
Our egos like to be busy and they like to be in control. In order to maintain that (illusion of) control, the ego can set up a lot of road blocks to keep us from meditating. Here are some of the common strategies our egos use and some ways to counter them:
- Our egos love to tell us that we are too busy to meditate. Of course that is not true. There is an old saying that goes: “Meditate every day for an hour unless you are too busy. In that case, meditate for two hours.” There is a lot of truth to this, but an ego that thinks it is too busy probably won’t agree to that! So we can set an expectation that our ego will agree to. We can achieve a lot in just five to ten minutes of meditation, and even the most stubborn egos will have a hard time arguing with that!
- Our egos often tell us that meditation is something specific that we “can’t do”. The inner dialogue goes something like “Meditation is not thinking; I can’t not-think!” or “Meditation is reciting a weird mantra, and I don’t want to do that!”, or “Meditation means sitting cross-legged, and my legs can’t cross like that!”, or “Meditation means counting the breath; I’ll feel like I’m suffocating!” Meditation can be any of these things and it can be something else. We can do a little research and find a style that seems reasonable to us.
- Sometimes our egos tell us that we can’t meditate because we can’t stop thinking. When my ego tried that one, I made a deal with it: I sat in meditation but let my mind process its ideas, go through the list of chores, think about the grocery list. This became “thinking time before meditation”. I decided to be OK with it, and have come to think of it as a kind of clearing process. Many of my meditation friends do the same thing. As it turns out, our minds come up with some good stuff when we give them the time to process. After the processing time, we can move on to our meditation.
- In other cases, our ego puts us to sleep. When this happens, it is a good idea to make sure we keep our meditation time short and our posture pretty straight and not comfy-cozy. The ego trick of falling asleep is something that patience and persistence will help us through. For me, it was kind of like training my toddlers to not throw tantrums: I didn’t cave in to candy in the grocery store, and I didn’t give my own ego what it wanted, either―I sat in meditation anyway.
- Our egos can get trapped in other kinds of rigid thinking that keep us from meditating. It is best to meditate first thing in the morning, but I am not a morning person. When I had to wake early and was off to a busy start, I meditated at night instead. Now my schedule has changed so I do my meditation in the morning most of the time.
Meditation should be fun, refreshing, a treat! As we become aware of the good vibes we get when we meditate, those feelings in themselves can become the positive reinforcement that keep us going. Till then, the tricks listed above can help answer that question, how to commit to meditate!
If you have other tips and ideas, or traps that need suggestions, please leave comments below!