Ever thought, “this time I am going to make it last, I need it and know it. So no way I am not going to keep meditating.” You committed to meditation practice and realised it’d been a while since you last meditated. Ahhhhh…
First up, stop the self-berating. It does nothing to serve you. And you are so not alone.
I failed at meditation for about 7-8 years before finally making it stick. I experimented with different approaches and for periods felt great but sure enough, at some point would realise “@#$$ I haven’t meditated for weeks”. That would be the end of that run; then I would end up feeling crap again, tired & depressed or not feel optimal. It sucked.
Especially as I had a young family and businesses to run.
So back to find a new practice or back to vipassana for another attempt.
This pattern continued for years of same old same old… Something had to give.
Fortune smiled on when I was introduced to Vedic Meditation. I was about to head back for another round of vipassana. Someone I respect told me to forget that, “go learn Vedic Meditation, as Vedic is easy to learn and do”. Told me all I needed to know and off I went to learn.
So Rich, was it truly a game-changer and did you stick to it without fail?
Yes to the first question, but no. There were periods initially that I was a little slack. For the most part, I would do my twice a day meditation, but I certainly was missing a few sessions here and there and even the odd day.
The big difference this time around was Vedic meditation was so easy to come back to if I did miss a few days.
Enough about me, why do most people fail at sticking with meditation?
- You have not found the right practice for you. There are several primary forms of meditation (Concentration, e.g. focus on breath, contemplation, e.g. mindfulness, Automatic self-transcending, e.g. Vedic), each work on different aspects of the brain and nervous system. Some most find hard (e.g. concentration), so find one that works for you.
- Pain. If you are trying to sit cross-legged like a Buddha pose and you are not used to it, it’s going to be hard and forget being able to relax, let alone meditate. It’s a myth (although some practices insist on it so you can “observe and go for equanimity” super tough for beginners. Sit comfortably (i.e. on a chair with back supported) so you can enter into a state of relaxation.
- Feeling like you are failing as you cannot quiet your mind. Again, another myth. And this expectation derails so many people in meditation. Meditation is not trying to stop the mind from thinking. That will set you up from failure from day 1. The mind will think like the heart will beat. It is what the mind does. So, learn to accept it, work with it and release any expectations from your practice.
- Patterns. Old patterns run deep. It is imperative in the early stage to commit to the practice of meditation for 30 days. Cultivate the mindset that this is a non-negotiable. But if you do miss a session, do not beat yourself up, be gentle with yourself and pick it up tomorrow — no big deal. There is no failure. If you stick to it, there will come a time when you realise, wow I’ve been meditating for a few months, and I feel better. From there, it just becomes a natural part of your life.
No matter who you are, there is a meditation practice that can fit in with your life. It is just a matter of finding the right method, and I am a huge advocate for getting the right teacher. A teacher is there to support you through the practice, for some they don’t need it, they learn and take to like ducks to water, whereas I have many students that I am working with over the first few months of their practice to “make it stick”.
So do not give up, keep searching and again never look at it as a failure, everything is only feedback!