Commit to Sit.

Via Daniel Scharpenburg
on Jul 14, 2013
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I need to have a stronger commitment to my meditation practice.

Meditation is hard. This seems counter-intuitive if you consider meditation to be just sitting and doing nothing, counting our breaths. This should be easy; it should be just about the laziest thing in the world. And people love to be lazy, don’t they?

But it isn’t easy.

I think it’s hard because it seems like the world is conspiring to stop us from successfully meditation. We have so many ways to entertain and occupy ourselves.

It can be hard to sit with all these distractions. We are too busy thinking about T.V., or playing a video game, or messing with our cell phones or goofing around on Facebook. Our culture teaches us that we have a right to be entertained all the time. Not only do we have this, it sometimes feels like an obligation. I don’t think that this is a natural part of the human condition. I think it’s a learned habit. This habit works against mindfulness, and we have to figure out how to get past it.

Although today when I was meditating, I got distracted because I started thinking about writing this article…

The Buddha talked about the five hindrances, a list of five things that tend to get in the way of meditation practice. These hindrances are desire, ill will, sloth, restlessness and doubt.

Desire distracts from my practice because I’m thinking about things I want.

Ill will distracts from my meditation practice because I’m thinking negative thoughts about myself or others.

Sloth means being distracted because I’m tired and meditation makes me think about going to sleep.

Restlessness is the one that really gets me, and I think it’s the one most people struggle with. It means being distracted because I’m worrying or thinking too much. Thinking about the future or the past instead of stilling the mind is a serious problem in meditation.

Doubt means either a lack of belief that meditation is helpful, or a lack of belief that we can do it.

I have anxiety issues. I have always had anxiety issues. I am constantly dealing with the hindrance of restlessness in my meditation practice. I have struggled with all five hindrances, and I think most people who practice meditation have, but restlessness is the only one that I ever experience these days.

So, now that I’ve identified the problem, how do I deal with it? I’ve found that routine is the only thing that works.

Commit. Practice meditation every day. If you think you can’t do it, you’re wrong. Everyone can.

It’s good to practice 20-30 minutes a day, but start slowly. Start meditating five minutes per day and slowly expand the time you spend sitting. If you say you think you don’t have five minutes to spare, you’re kidding yourself.

You have the time, so use it.

Commit to sit. You’ll be glad you did.


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Assistant Editor: Andie Britton-Foster/Ed: Brianna Bemel



About Daniel Scharpenburg

Daniel Scharpenburg lives in Kansas City with two kids and two cats. He teaches classes in Buddhist studies at the Rime Buddhist Center, where he's starting a Zen meditation group in the near future. He's studied with a wide variety of different Buddhist teachers and is a dedicated follower of the Zen tradition. He received personal instruction from Shi Da Dao, in the Caodong (Soto) tradition, and he has served as jisha (personal attendant) to Karen Maezen Miller on a Zen retreat. He's the writer of Notes from a Buddhist Mystic Find out more about Daniel on his blog and connect with him on Facebook and  Twitter.


3 Responses to “Commit to Sit.”

  1. Good article, Daniel.

    For a radically different view of meditation, see:
    “Effortless Wellbeing”: Meditation as Everyday Life

    Bob W. Editor
    Best of Yoga Philosophy

  2. Amanda says:

    So, how do you avoid hindrance number six… Children? Why didn't Buddha mention that? Every single time I try to meditate I have a literal monkey on my back…

  3. taliasukol says:

    Such a nice article. My new poem that was posted links to you ::
    Oh the process of sitting. Sometimes I meet myself in a focused state, while other times i'm as equally restless and scattered. I try and stay non-judgemental and non-attached, and be grateful for each moment of space and breathing.