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How to meditate if you’re bad at meditating

I’m bad at meditating. There. I said it.

We know we should do it. We know it reduces stress, anxiety, promotes clearer thinking, enhances self awareness, lengthens your attention span, makes you a person that says ‘namaste’ a lot (optional.)

If you took one look at the image above and felt a little shit that your meditation practice doesn’t look or feel like this, don’t worry.

Mine doesn’t either.

I just figured it looked better than a picture of me with greasy hair in an oversized pyjama top, crammed on my bedroom floor and peeking at my iPhone timer with an vacant, slightly dopey look on my face.

And Pinterest surprisingly doesn’t have a whole lot of shots of people meditating on rattling trains on the commute home from work, or trying to concentrate in their backyard while their dogs lick their face. And that’s cool; nice pictures of bohemian queens meditating in sun-dappled rooms are nice to look at.

It’s like spiritual porn. It looks amazing but you know it isn’t necessarily an accurate depiction of the real thing, so you’re not about to go try recreate it or deprecate yourself for not having it.

You might be thinking “So you’re telling me what we see on the internet isn’t always real?

Wow Caitlin, in other news, water is wet.” But listen, how many times have we decided we just weren’t “good at meditation” or “meditation wasn’t for us” or we’d “failed a meditation session” because it didn’t match up to some idealistic view of it we had in our heads?

Checkmate.

For me, I really like it when things happen fast.

I like the exhilaration of my world unfolding quickly around me like bang, bang, bang.

New friendships that explode and progress with rapid-fire speed.

I like the euphoric rush of a new project, when the world is wide open and the possibilities are endless.

They’re instantly gratifying.

There’s a sense of achievement and progress.

Meditation doesn’t always give you that.

Sometimes, sometimes, you get to drop in and feel like you’re sitting in the center of your soul and the universe or whatever; the calm, the clarity, the perspective, the overall feeling of wellbeing and freedom- amazing.

But sometimes, mostly, it doesn’t work; your thoughts and worries multiply like splitting cells. You try to wrestle your brain like you’re wrestling a bear and beat it into submission. You turn inward. Are you really that bad at life that you can’t even succeed at doing nothing? 

I’d feel vulnerable, like I’d failed, and I’d mourn the ‘wasted time.’ I was bad at meditating.

And overshadowed by the risk of ‘wasting time’ I often would make a time and a place to meditate, write it in my to-do list, make it a date. Then I’d chicken out and leave it hanging there in the restaurant until the waiter had to come up and say ‘look, I don’t think she’s coming, man.’

That was until I realized two things.

  1. Meditation is not about controlling thoughts but just noticing them, sitting with them, and letting it all be okay.
  2. There’s no such thing as being ‘good’ at meditation. And even the ‘bad’ sessions are useful.

I recently had dinner with a Kadampan Buddhist nun who had just finished a week in silent meditation. She said for the whole time she sat in a sour mood, watching the negative thoughts run through her mind with a heaviness she couldn’t shake. This was someone who lives at the temple, teaches classes daily and has been all over the world, teaching meditation and Buddhist teachings by the thousands. A seasoned professional, yet we’re beating ourselves up because we’ve sat down three times and ‘just can’t get it?’

So what do we do now?

We drop any idea of what we think our meditation session should be.  Who gives a shit if you’re bad at meditating. We let ourselves be bad at it, and sit down to do it anyway, we drop any expectations, judgements or preconceived notions of what it should be or look like. For sure, we ignore the cute instagram mediation photos. We ignore everyone else, because this is for us. To meet ourselves, exactly where we’re at. We let our bellies hang over the waistband of our shorts and we sit down and surrender and we sit down, willing.

If you need some help… We created the “Fuck it” meditation. You can download it >>here << for free.
“Breathe in strength; breathe out bullshit”. 🙂

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About the Author:

Caitlin is a journalist and writer from Australia. She’s into collecting and sharing the stories of other human people. Mostly women’s stories. You can find her at @caitlincreeper

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