I hear people all the time say that they can’t meditate.
If people saw meditation like riding a bike, I wonder how many would so easily submit that they couldn’t do it.
Like riding a bike, meditation is really easy to learn. Sure you can always get better at riding a bike, but that first hurdle of just being able to say I CAN ride a bike is not that difficult to get over.
What’s the key insight to learning how to ride on two wheels? Trust. It’s not intuitive that balance is easy once you pick up enough speed. You have to trust that you’ll be able to balance if you go at a speed that seems fast enough to be dangerous. You just have to try it, come what may.
Learning how to meditate is simply trusting that it is something worthwhile. It’s not all that intuitive that conscious silence really does anything at all. You have to trust that it does and do it. That’s it.
Unlike riding a bike, meditation usually doesn’t have the same “ah ha!” moment early on. I think this is why so many people think they can’t meditate: they’re expecting “something” to happen, some feedback that shows them they did it successfully. With riding a bike, you know the expected outcome. You’ve seen people do it. But with meditation what’s the expected outcome? Enlightenment? End of suffering? Perfect peace, happiness, joy in all things? You’ve seen people do this, right? But most people end meditation much like they started—same thoughts, same problems, same feelings.
This is where people give up. And it’s sad, because they’ve given up before even understanding what it is they’re trying to do. Meditation is not about getting anywhere. It’s not a method for changing yourself or becoming better, stronger, wiser, happier.
That’s not what meditation is.
Meditation is simply being aware. It’s giving yourself the time to be without expectation. To just be.
The more you struggle to get somewhere in your meditation—to go deeper, to stop thinking, to have those feelings of deep peace and love—the less you are actually meditating.
Meditation is the process of paying attention, accepting what comes, paying attention, accepting what comes, paying attention, accepting what comes…
That’s it. It’s a very simple process.
But what happens if I can’t pay attention? Am I failing when I start thinking about whatever and 10 minutes go by where I totally forgot I was meditating?
No. That’s what came. Accept it. Now pay attention. Repeat.
Meditation doesn’t go “well” because it felt good or because you managed to not think for any length of time. Meditation doesn’t go “poorly” because you just sat uncomfortably and thought crazy thoughts the entire time.
You either meditate or you don’t. You either decide to pay attention and accept what comes, or you don’t.
All it takes is a little trust. Do it. You will learn through experience why it matters.
Before you know it you’ll no longer be wondering what it is like to ride.