As a meditation instructor, I hear all kinds of reasons why people don’t meditate.
“I don’t have the time, I don’t know how, I have kids.”
But my all-time favorite answer, and the one that sums up pretty much every reason I’ve heard, is this: “I know I should meditate… but I just don’t want to!”
Isn’t that ultimately it? We don’t want to meditate, but everyone keeps telling us we should. Deepak and Oprah, Eckhart, Neale, the Dalai Lama, our doctors, coaches, and yoga teachers. We know we should meditate, we know it’s good for us, but let’s be honest, we tried it and we just didn’t like it.
So how has this wonderful, ancient practice designed to fill you with bliss and connect you to the power of your authentic heart become the adult equivalent of a four-year-old having to eat over-cooked broccoli?
Simple: we’re doing it wrong.
Yes, you can meditate incorrectly. Just like you can cook incorrectly, drive incorrectly, speak incorrectly, or do anything incorrectly, you can meditate incorrectly. And when you’re meditating incorrectly, it kind of sucks.
This may be a shock to a lot of people, but meditation isn’t supposed to suck. Really! Think (or don’t think) about it… Meditation is a process of joyful awakening. It’s you letting go of everything you are not. It’s you connecting to the infinite love, infinite power, and infinite joy that is who you are at your deepest of level of being.
Now when you actually connect to infinite joy, guess what? It feels really good! When you discover the ecstatic bliss of this moment, it’s overwhelmingly pleasant. In fact, you may just find a smile trying to break through that somber scowl of meditation. Yes, it’s okay to smile when you meditate. It’s okay to throw your head back and laugh. It’s okay to want to jump up and down, break into song and dance, and start running in the direction of your dreams.
Who are you when all your limitations are gone? You’ll find out in meditation. Don’t meditate because it’s good for your stress, meditate because leaving the fog of the mind and dropping into the exquisite beauty of this moment is the most loving, powerful, and freeing thing you can do. It’s in this place you remember you’re perfect, whole, and complete. It’s in this place you remember you’re enlightened. And it’s in this place you remember you can make a difference.
So what’s the big secret to transformational meditation?
Enjoy it. That’s it.
Why aren’t we enjoying it?
Non-attachment is a term that you’re bound to hear if you study meditation. It conjures images of emotionless stoicism—a silent, somber figure who responds to death and disaster with the same numb indifference with which he would respond to the birth of a child. Somehow, we’ve come to equate non-attachment with “don’t have thoughts, don’t have reactions, and don’t have emotions.” Attachment is viewed as the root of suffering in Buddhist philosophy, and the cure for suffering, so we believe, is non-attachment. But the way we’ve been practicing non-attachment is a form of suffering in and of itself!
I used to sit in a full-lotus when I meditated, legs cramped and convulsing as I tried to beat down my thoughts and feelings and block out the sounds around me. After years of this ridiculous suffering, one evening I remembered that the purpose of meditation was to become present. Not to block out what’s present. Not to stuff it down. But to actually experience this moment.
And the secret to experiencing this moment is simply to enjoy it.
Have you ever watched the Dalai Lama? Why is he always so happy? He’s enjoying this moment. He’s enjoying what’s present. Mindfulness is the art of enjoying whatever’s happening around you. Meditation is the art of enjoying whatever’s happening within you. Even if it’s sadness. Just enjoy whatever’s present. Feel whatever’s present. As you bring enjoyment to what’s in your space, the heavy stuff starts to lift. You let stuff go. And what’s underneath it all? Greater enjoyment!
Don’t watch your thoughts, enjoy your thoughts. Don’t stuff down those feelings, enjoy those feelings. And don’t fight your body, enjoy your body. Enjoy the way you’re sitting. If you’re uncomfortable, get comfortable! Enjoy it. Love it. Love every minute of being present.
Do you want an entirely new experience of meditation? Increase your enjoyment of what’s present.
Do that, and pretty soon, you’ll find yourself smiling when you meditate.
Author: Chris von der Mehden
Image: Knar Bedian/Flickr
Editors: Catherine Monkman; Caitlin Oriel