Recently, my friend and I were talking about mindfulness, and she told me that she was starting to experiment with meditation. She quickly confessed that she was a "bad meditator," and I thought to myself, welcome to the club. But instead of saying that out loud, I asked her why she thought she was a bad meditator.
She told me she had a hard time sitting still. And when she did, she only got more frustrated because she couldn't get her mind to slow down and be quiet. I could certainly relate, and I suspect anyone who has attempted to slow down for a bit and meditate can, too.
Here's the thing, though: Being "bad" at meditation is just part of the drill—at least at first.
There are several reasons why it's tough to meditate. Our brains are wired to constantly scan, assess, judge, and sort. The judgment and assessing are rooted in self-preservation, and it helps us efficiently process our day-to-day experience. There's nothing "wrong" with our active minds, but it's important to know that its busyness is a part of the human condition.
When you add other influences like the broad use of technology and its impact on our brain chemistry, our culture's bias toward extroversion, and our propensity for multitasking, it's pretty easy to understand why meditation isn't easy.
It also doesn't help that as adults, we have less tolerance for being beginners at much of anything. If you begin a meditation practice with the thought that you will be "successful," "achieve," or "master" anything, you are setting yourself up for frustration. Wisdom teacher Adyashanti says, "Real meditation isn't about mastering a technique; it's about letting go of control."
Many of us are under the illusion that we are in control of our lives, so it's no wonder that when we enter into meditation and are invited to surrender control, it evokes frustration, fear, and sometimes sheer panic.
Even though the odds for silence and stillness may be stacked against us, there are more people now than ever feeling an organic and inspired call toward turning inward, and this points to an awakening in human consciousness.
For those of you who feel inspired to try meditation—but still feel the pangs of resistance, uncertainty, or fear—here are four things that will help you get started: