By now, we've all heard about all the benefits of meditation and many of us have learned and have even gotten to experience those benefits, yet somehow very few people have solid, regular practices. Most of my students, even the really enthusiastic ones, will fall off the meditation wagon from time to time. I have to admit, before coming a teacher, I had stretches of weeks, even a couple months where I didn't make it to the chair. What is it? Why is something that feels so wonderful, that enhances our lives so much, and is as easy as sitting in a chair so challenging to make part of our daily lives. There are many multi-faceted reasons, and everyone is different, but here's what I find in my teaching to be the most prevalent reasons. This week, I will focus on those who have not yet learned to meditate, next week, I will explore the reasons for those who have.
You Don't Know What You Don't Know
The greatest challenge for me as a teacher is my students don't know the value of what they are learning until after they've learned it. For the most part, people who haven't meditated yet have no way of knowing how different the experience of their lives can be. When students find me, it is because some inner voice inside has been telling them for a long time that things can be different and that difference lies within themselves, but it is still a leap. If I could magically bestow, even for a couple minutes, the state of existence that comes from a twice daily dip into pure consciousness on my prospective students, there would be no need for words. I was fortunate enough to experience this in a way. I had a glimpse of a higher consciousness state, basically an experience of being much further down my evolutionary path than I was, after a trauma in my mid-twenties. This led me to search for what that was, and when I found meditation, I felt a flavor of it again and I knew this was the key to living life feeling whole and fulfilled.
Confusion around meditation
It is wonderful that meditation is riding a wave of popularity, but with that popularity is a mess of misinformation and offerings of varying purity and quality. This teaching is thousands of years old from a completely different culture and has been pushed through the Play-doh spaghetti maker of the Western World View and capitalist ideology. These philosophies are opposite in many senses. You may have heard part of the message right, and part is distorted through this lens causing a lackluster experience or the impression that this practice is not suited to you.
You’ve tried the wrong practice for you
There are so many different kinds of meditation and yoga, all of which have different processes and different effects. For the most part, all forms of yoga (the meditation I teach is a form of yoga as is breath-work and certain devotional practices, not just the kind of yoga done in yoga studios) are trying to reach, well, yoga, which is the union of the individual nature with one’s universal nature. Some practices require intense concentration which you may find uncomfortable. And some are “meditation lite,” like most guided meditations and meditations taught on apps. These are great as an introduction, but making your decision on whether you feel suited to meditation based on one of these is like taking a bath and deciding you don’t like the ocean.
One of my favorite aspects of what I do is talking to people who have curiosity about meditation and helping them sort through all the conflicting information out there on it to help them decide what level of practice might be right for them. If you are one of those people, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I often have free talks, host free weekly meditations, and am also available for one on one discussions.
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Scarlett may not be super regular with her practice, but she always comes back to it.