“Reminder – Meditation is really hard work when starting out – Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!”
“I’m new to meditation and being disciplined enough to sit and practice every day is definitely the hardest part for me.”
“It takes tremendous courage to meditate.” A quote from a Buddhist monk.
I’m not surprised by the above statements and quotes from various people along their meditation journey. Meditation is not for the faint heart, because you will uncover your true self. And it won’t be all rainbows and unicorns. And discovering things about yourslef is going to challenge your identity.
Do you know what Ray Dalio, Arianna Huffington, Jeff Weiner, Jerry Seinfield, Marc Benioff, Bob Shapiro and Oprah Winfrey have in common? Keep reading to find out.
Meditation is simple. It really is. It’s making it a habit that is difficult. I wrote an article on how you can make meditating a successful habit. You see. You’ve been sold the idea that if something is not working you need to fix it. And in order to fix it, you have to do something.
Whilst meditating may look like doing nothing, it actually involves the use of your brain in a different way than it is trained – Becoming more conscious. Most of us find having our attention flow outward absolutley normal. However, meditation requires that you turn your focus inwards. Now if there’s no training on how you can turn, and more importantly, keep you attention inwards at a stretch, it is going to be an uphill task. It requires training everyday.
Here’s 3 reasons why meditation can be a challenging routine to create:
1. It requires you to sit for 20 minutes: It may feel like a complete waste of time of “sitting and doing nothing”. But allow me to present another perspective.
Buddha was asked, “What have you gained from meditation?”He replied, “Nothing!” Then he continued, “However, let me tell you what I have lost: anger, anxiety, depression, insecurity, and fear of old age and death.”
When you are just starting out, you’re meditating for the purpose of staying present to and connected with your breath. That’s it. And it is okay for your mind to wander. The exercise here is that you’re becoming aware that you went off track, which happens; it’s normal. And then you bring your attention back to your breath. And you may start off with meditating for 5 minutes. But as you progress, build that number up to 20 minutes. Because it takes about that long for your busy mind to settle. It’s may look like the least productive activity. But remember. You are meditating with the singular purpose of focusing on your breath.
2. You’re wearing Busy as a your badge of honour: Have you heard the “I’m too busy, I don’t have time to meditate” statement. You are tired and your mind is troubled because it has everyone and everything around you is calling to your attention and you’re giving it. You have barely any time for yourself.
A more important question to ask here would be “What is keeping me so busy?” “Am I keeping myself busy, so that I don’t have to deal with the difficult emotions that are coming to surface?”
There’s a Zen saying that goes:You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should for an hour.
No one has time. You make space for it in your schedule. You create time for things that are important to you. Stress is a normal part of life. Some stress is healthy. But too much stress has serious health consequences. Imagine the stress that you have built up. Now imagine that your workplace has negative energy and toxic work culture. And then you’re over-worked. You experience burnout. The World Health Organization declared burnout a medical condition in May 2019. Some of the physical, emotional and behavioural signs and symptoms of burnout are:
- Feeling tired and drained most of the time
- Lowered immunity, frequent illnesses
- Frequent headaches or muscle pain
- Loss of motivation
- Feeling helpless, trapped and defeated
- Withdrawal from responsibilities
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.
Take a moment to reflect on this question – “Is it better to start meditating after your burnout, or right now?”
Busyness is not a badge of honour. So stop wearing it. It may make your ego feel good in the short-term, but it costs you your health and peace. It’s not worth it. Busy doesn’t mean productive.
Moreover, if these wildly successful entrepreneurs, celebrities and CEOs like Ray Dalio, Arianna Huffington, Jeff Weiner, Jerry Seinfield, Marc Benioff, Bob Shapiro and Oprah Winfrey have time to meditate, then you have no excuses for not meditating.
3. Your are letting your Job Title decide who you are: When you meditate regularly, after some time you may for the very first time start to develop an awareness of who you are minus your worldly identity. Are you the Managing Director of ACE Inc., or the CEO of XYZ Corporation? Is that all there is to you? Your designation may give you a validation of having earned your “status” in society. If something happens that makes you lose your designation, what happens to the validation that you were receiving externally? This is why meditation, even though it may be simple, it is not easy. Because it challenges our existential beliefs about ourselves, about our identities that we hold on to.
The good news is that the pratice of meditation helps you reflect upon and then choose what and who you want to show up as from the greater awareness of who you are.
This is quite similar to the false idea that happiness can be found outside of you. Happiness is not in the next job, car, iphone, dress, shoes or relationship. Happiness is rather in the present.
The practice of meditation asks that you become deliberate in bringing your awareness back to yourself. This is how you build your mindfulness muscles. To learn more about how you can incorporate these and make meditation a part of your daily life, please reach out to a mindfulness coach.