You’ve tried meditating and it doesn’t work, so you think

“I’ve tried meditating and mindfulness and it simply doesn’t work.”

It’s one of the most common things I hear from people beginning a mindfulness practice. It’s right up there with “I don’t have enough time.”  (That’s an issue for another blog entry).

Many people say they’ve tried building a stillness practice into their lives, and it simply doesn’t work.

They sat, and then a thought came along, and it was over.

Tried and failed. It’s not for them, they think.

Spoiler alert: a still mind is for – and available to – everyone

The sense that it just doesn’t is an extremely common feeling with would-be meditators and it’s a practice-killer, even before it starts.

The problem here isn’t whether the meditation or mindfulness practice works, but whether the practitioner’s expectations are realistic.

Many believe meditation should be an endless stream of bliss and calm, uninterrupted by any thought whatsoever.

While the practice can bring about calm, it doesn’t come at the absence of thought.

In mindfulness meditation, we are changing the way we relate to the breath and to thought. We aren’t blissing out on one in the absence of the other.

The very thing that makes mindfulness meditation so useful to everyday living is that change in relationship, which allows us to carry that sense of calm into the bustle of the day.

The misconception that meditation is an endless stream of bliss is understandable.

Just watch someone meditate.

A meditator sits in absolute stillness, seemingly unbothered the world around them. To an observer, this look to be calm, through and through.

However, what can’t be seen is the continued barrage of thoughts, that are noted by the meditator without judgment, as attention is gently brought back to the breath.

Even in accomplished meditators, this is happening repeatedly, and like beginners, they note where their thoughts had gone, and come back to the breath.

However, to a casual onlooker, none of that can be seen.

So, those brave souls who sit and attempt to find stillness, are often surprised at how busy the mind remains, even in physical stillness.

Your mind will drift a hundred times, and you bring it back every time.

This is the practice.

Over time, the drifting slows, and the periods of calm get longer.

The practice is worth the effort.

I have yet to meet anyone who gave sufficient attention to this practice who didn’t find it an excellent addition to their life.

Give it a solid try, and see if you don’t agree.