Many people have never meditated or had no experience with mindfulness, and have minimal sense of the value that it may have for them. But there are also many people who have meditated and found it valuable, and have some sort of sense that, “I’d like to have it be more a part of my life”, but aren’t doing as much of it as we would like.
A common saying about physical exercise is: if a person wants to do more of it but they feel they don’t have time for it, the real issue is often not lack of time but that doing it feels uncomfortable. The same is often true about meditation. When this happens, since meditation is “just being ourselves, except more so”, the question becomes, why would it feel uncomfortable to simply sit with and face ourselves – and, maybe more importantly, what can we do about it?
Sometimes an uncomfortable experience of meditating, of tuning in to day-to-day mindful presence, or, perhaps more often, the experience of avoiding them may have some wisdom and guidance to provide us. And that insight often comes in one of two different flavors:
- External life – is our discomfort indicating to us that there is something that it would be helpful for us to handle in our life? Meditating may feel more comfortable after we clean off our desk or do the laundry. Perhaps we are antsy because of a phone call or conversation that we’ve been putting off, or an even larger life change that is calling to us.
- Inner life – sometimes when it is difficult to tolerate how it feels to sit down to meditate, it is because our meditation has been marked by grinding with self-criticism and expectations of perfection, and the solution is to bring more warm-heartedness friendliness to ourselves. At such times, it can be helpful to bring more of a sense of acceptance, patience, spaciousness, allowing, and forgiveness to ourselves.
The great psychologist Carl Rogers said that happiness is having a close correlation between who we want to be in life and who we are being, and unhappiness is having a gap between the two. To lessen a gap, he suggested, we can both raise up reality by behaving more in line with our goals and standards for ourselves, and also lower the ideal being more compassionate and realistic with ourselves.
So, if you are wanting to meditate more in your life and have “just not been finding the time”, it could be that crossing off some important things on your to-do list first may make it easier to slide into finding more motivation, and it could be that bringing some more warm-hearted friendliness and ease to yourself may do the same too.