Posted in meditation

Why Meditate?

Meditation is challenging.

Anyone that tells you it’s easy is probably trying to sell you something. It takes time, energy, and determination. Often in life we feel like we have a shortage of these things. It’s tempting to avoid meditation. I could meditate, but I’d rather watch Netflix or sit and drink beer. These days it’s so easy to fill our time with many things that are either productive or pleasurable. We always have things to do. Is it worth our time to stop and do nothing for a little while?

Why should we spend our time meditating?

We do this because life and hard and it helps. Every one of us is a mess. We may think we are and some people aren’t, but we’re wrong. Everyone is a mess. We’re confused, we struggle to be happy, and we’re distracted. A lot of the time we’re just sleepwalking through life, missing everything. We have difficulty being fully present.

There is a way we can learn how to live our lives more fully. That what this is about. We’re trying to learn how to be more present and aware, to see more clearly, and to be more genuine. There is depth and clarity in our lives that we’re missing.

Sometimes we get stuck in an “if only” perspective. If only this or that was different, then I could be happy. That can easily steal all our joy. We have a pervasive mental habit of always wanting. We spend a lot of time labeling the world around us, putting things into categories to try to make sense of the world. Good, bad, boring, fun, etc. We put things in categories then decide how to react. And sometimes we don’t even know we’re making those judgments ourselves. When we call something bad we want to push it away. When we call something good, we want to try to hold on. We always have less power than we’d like to push and pull these things. No matter how hard we try to hold onto good, sometimes we can’t. No matter how hard we try to push away bad, sometimes we can’t. And when there’s nothing good or bad, we’re often bored. We have put ourselves in chains of grasping our likes and pushing our dislikes. We’ve put ourselves in chains but the truth is we have the key.

And we can improve that by seeing clearly.

Another thing we struggle with is change. Things are always changing when we want them to stay the same. Change is the nature of the universe. When we learn to pay attention to our minds we see that there’s plenty of change there too. Our thoughts come and go and lead to others thoughts, sometimes so fast that we  don’t even know how we got from one thought to another. People come and go in our lives. Good things come and go. Bad things come and go too. It’s all about change. And, of course, ultimately it becomes increasingly clear to us that we’re getting older. Our bodies are, slowly but surely, going too. Change is inevitable and hard to accept.

What it all comes down to is this. We are carried around by a subtle discontent that I call suffering. We can learn how to manage that by learning how our minds work and training them. We can learn how to recognize our desires and not be controlled by them. We can want or fear something without becoming unreasonable and/or obsessed.

Through meditation we learn to see how our minds work, then we can learn to see ourselves more clearly. That’s where the magic happens. When we see ourselves clearly we can really learn how to manage our suffering. Mental cultivation through consistent meditation practice is a powerful method transforming our relationships to ourselves and to the world. Meditation purifies our minds. It cuts through the baggage and the bullshit and shows us what’s really happening. This brings us clarity and helps us develop wisdom, mindfulness, and compassion. Meditation softens us and opens us up so we stop making enemies out of everything all the time. Meditation can make us deeply aware of the world and our place in it. Meditation also helps us sharpen our concentration so we can pay attention, really pay attention, and experience the world in a more full way.

Why meditate?

Because I want to live my best life. I want to see the world in a more clear and full way than I ever have before. We may not be able to add years to our lives, but we can add life to our years.

Why not try?

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Want to come meditate with me? I’m at Ubuntu Village Monday nights at 7pm. Meditation Practice, Support, and Encouragement. 4327 Troost, Kansas City, MO.

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Posted in meditation

Bad At Meditating?

I have this friend who said to me, “I want to come to meditation, but I’m just really bad at meditating!”

And that really got me thinking. I think we’re all bad at meditating. I know I am.

I’m starting a weekly meditation group and I’m pretty excited about it. One of the reasons I’m doing that is to give other people a really welcoming environment for meditation practice and to give a lot of encouragement. But another reason I’m doing it is…well, nothing inspires you to meditate quite like inviting other people to do it with you. I really believe that.

So, the truth is I think we’re all pretty bad at meditating.

Here is a traditional list of some challenges people have in meditation.

Laziness

Laziness manifests in several different ways. One example is, “I’m not going to meditate because I don’t feel like it.” Another is “I could meditate but I have all these other things to do” and that can apply to many things we need to do, like meal planning or cleaning the house, but it can also apply to things we want to do—“I would meditate, but I have so much to watch on Netflix.”

Essentially anything that we use as an excuse to not meditate could be considered a form of laziness. I have this. I’m really good at doing chores around the house instead of meditating. Things need to get done, of course, but all of us have 10 minutes a day of free time. I believe that.

Agitation

Agitation usually manifests as fidgeting. Feeling like we have to adjust our position repeatedly, having a lot of difficulty getting comfortable, itchy sensations happening all over. These are forms of agitation. Also, I’ve found that I can go through my day and feel normal, but suddenly when I sit down to meditate my clothes are uncomfortable. They were probably uncomfortable the whole day, but once I’ve sat down to just be present, it’s like they don’t fit right at all.

Ill Will

Ill will is the one I don’t really struggle with personally, but I’ve heard of it. It’s where you just hate meditation. We get on the cushion, sit down and just hate every second and wait for it to be over. Some of that is, that meditation forces us to be real. We sometimes don’t want to be real; we want to be distracted and unmindful. We want to avoid self reflection.

Meditation can force us to face some thought we may be trying to bury deep. That can be uncomfortable.

The truth is that meditation is like flossing. It’s something that we know is good for us, and we just don’t do it. We don’t want to, so we don’t. It takes great determination to have a sustained practice. The best thing to do is attend a meditation group or start one. If you can do it on your own without any support, that’s great, but most of us have a lot of difficulty with that.

Having some other people on the path with you helps. And nothing will get us motivated quite like putting ourselves into situations where we have to do it.