Why Not to Meditate

Mission accomplished!

IMG_1223IMG_1222 Before I get to all the reasons you why NOT to meditate, an update: I have officially completed my 100 day meditation challenge!  As proof, check out a couple of screen shots from Insight Timer, my meditation app of choice.

The reason I use this app to track my meditation is that it helps keep me on track because I want to earn stars for milestones!

If you missed my past posts on this topic, check them out here:

Stop procrastinating with the “Seinfeld Strategy”

What does Jerry Seinfeld have to do with meditation?

Surprisingly, a lot!  A few weeks after I started my 100 day meditation challenge, I read I great article by James Clear on How to Stop Procrastinating by Using the “Seinfeld Strategy.”

Top performers across all areas of life are those that are more consistent than everyone else.  Jerry Seinfeld, known as one of the most successful comedians in history, shares a simple secret to his productivity and consistency, which is to write every day and track each day that he writes:

Time Passing“After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain.”

While simple, this strategy is brilliant and I can tell you IT WORKS.  This is exactly what I was trying to do for myself by meditating for 100 days in a row.  By committing to and TRACKING a simple task, and doing it every day, no matter what, come hell or high water, we can all accomplish great results.

Theoretically, many of us want to meditate every day, exercise every day, and do many other life-changing things every day, but when it comes to actually doing it, there are lots of things that can interfere.  I certainly didn’t feel like meditating every day during this challenge.  I could have easily skipped days, except that I DIDN’T WANT TO BREAK THE CHAIN!  Tracking my meditation practice and seeing the number of days in a row increase was enough to keep me going.

One last thought: Seinfeld’s peak earnings were $267 million dollars in one year in 1998.  So, do you think this guy might know a thing or two about success and getting things done?

What’s next?

Now that I’ve done my 100 days, will I keep meditating?

Initially I thought I might take a little break after the 100 days.  It’s easy to feel that I have somehow “achieved peace” and now I don’t need to keep doing this every day.

Thankfully, I know from experience that when I stop meditating, after a little while I feel more stressed, less happy, and it becomes that much harder to start up again.  Now that I’m really in the habit of meditating daily and I know just how much impact that measly 10 minutes per day has on my wellbeing, I’m planning to keep it up, going for a whole year in a row (which I last accomplished back in 2005!).

Reasons NOT to meditate

Sometimes I find myself talking to patients that spend most of their visit telling my why they simply can’t do whatever it is I’m suggesting that they do.  As in, they make the time to show up for their appointment at my office and pay me money to listen to “I can’t” over and over, even though simply by BEING THERE, they have already proven that they CAN make their health a priority and they do WANT to change!  I have an interesting job, that’s for sure!

Because of this, I have gotten into the habit of imagining objections and composing responses to them in my head.  So, here are my responses to the most common reasons people don’t meditate.

I don’t have time

Yes you do, you are just not choosing to meditate with the time you have.  Meditating will actually IMPROVE your management of your time, so it will seem like you actually have more!  So will exercising and sleeping, by the way.

It’s boring

Well, this one is definitely subjective, but I would challenge you to consider whether meditation is really boring or whether it is simply different than your usual hyper-stimulated state.  We can all benefit from taking a break from screens (TV, computers, phones, tablets, etc) and multitasking to just be still, even for just a few minutes.

It’s too hard

Nothing is “too hard,” most things are actually just hard enough to challenge you.  I bet you can think of at least 10 things you’ve done in your life that you once considered impossible, right?

Meditation is actually the opposite of hard – it requires you to literally do nothing.  You just haven’t practiced enough to be good at it.  Remember the first time you rode a bike without training wheels?  Did you fall off?  Of course you did, because you had to learn how to do it and the more you practiced, the better you got at it.  The same principle applies to every other aspect of life.  Practice makes perfect.

I can’t clear my mind

And that is exactly why you need to meditate!  I don’t know anyone who meditates who doesn’t have random thoughts popping up all over the place at some point or another.  I like to imagine that all the crazy thoughts that come up while I’m meditating means that my brain is detoxing and clearing out, so I can think clearer and focus on what matters.  Meditation will teach you to take charge of your thoughts instead of your thoughts pushing you around.

I hate it (and I hate you for telling me to meditate!)

Wow, who knew you felt so strongly?  Luckily, you and I live in a society of free choice and you can totally choose to ignore all my suggestions!

But, before you go, just consider all the things people HATE doing that are the exact things that make life more enjoyable, foster good health, or at the very least provide a means to a valuable end.  Things like exercising, eating our vegetables, going to bed early, getting our passport photos taken, cramming into a crowded subway with angry, sweaty people each morning, and I could go on…  So, rather than throw all your energy into hating these kind of things, how about choosing to see these things simply as chores or what we do to live the life we want.


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