I roll out of bed to the sound of my alarm clock as a cool summer breeze graces my cheek. It's yet another morning of my fifth-grade lazy summer vacation, but this day is unique. My dad and I are venturing out on a fishing trip. We leave the house before the sun has even risen, and there are no other vehicles on the road except for the milkman.
Since all the other shops are still closed, we stop at the gas station to stock up on picnic snacks. This is my favorite part of the trip, as my dad gives me carte blanche to pick all the sandwiches, chips, and other snacks I want. I'll be honest: I don't enjoy fishing. Being with my dad and enjoying the picnic is the real reason I'm here.
Sitting and observing a fishing line for hours seems like more of a chore than a hobby. I don't understand how anyone can really enjoy it. When I first started meditating, these childhood memories of fishing and boredom (and pestering my dad about when we would go home) came flooding back. And this is why meditation has been a struggle for me, even though I can appreciate the benefits.
First, let's just come out and say it—meditation is hard. It's a challenge, especially when first starting out. We often get the sense that other people have an easier time than us, or that we're doing something wrong. But the reason we fail to make progress in meditation stems from a perception problem rather than an actual problem. We resist the idea of having to sit in silence for 30 whole minutes or an hour. Going into meditation with this sense of forced effort feels heavy. It feels like work. So it's not hard to imagine how being alone with your thoughts is often regarded as pure torture, with electric shocks being preferable for many.
Like flossing, we know we should meditate and we know the benefits of doing so. Each week it seems like a new study comes out making us feel even worse that we have yet to make meditation a regular habit. My initial resistance to meditation has given me some insight—hopefully, insight that you can use to make your practice easier and more consistent.