About The Stuff that Stops Us

I woke up this morning with the answer to a question that had been nagging me for a long time, which was:

“Why do so many people want to meditate, but when they try it, they give up?”

I’ve taught hundreds of people how to meditate and most of them give up.  Various reasons are cited – not enough time, too difficult, results not quick enough, too subtle and so on.

At first I took it personally, but I’ve spoken to other meditation teachers and it’s the same thing for all of us.  People love it until they reach this point where they just can’t go on …

So this morning I was thinking about it, and a possible answer occurred to me:

We live in a world that’s focused on distracting us from  ourselves.  Entertainment, excitement, fun, work … it is all about something else – pouring our attention into outside things.

And in all this carnival of life, as complex, quick and mad as it is, we forget ourselves.

Aside from those uncomfortable times when there’s a break in the carnival , or when life reflects our inner angst back to us, we forget it all … we coast from distraction to distraction, and aside from the face in the mirror in the mornings, there is nobody and nothing here except what we’re doing and the excited attention that is consuming it.  No wonder we’re called ‘consumers’ … because for most people, that’s exactly what they are most of the time. And modern life as it is, as densely filled with distractions as it is, helps us to do that.

So, then we decide to learn meditation.

At first it’s fun – another distraction, a novelty, something new, a challenge, just like everything else in our life.

And we might have read some books, heard about ‘enlightenment’ and ‘bliss’ … so we have this idea that the stillness the teacher is talking about will be amazing, fun, unbelievably calm – a total trip.

And we go into the meditation looking for that.

But the stillness that appears is not quite what we were expecting … it’s not like what we read about in the books,

And the reason it’s different is because, in the initial stages,  it always brings our self with it. And that’s something we never bargained for …

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