I just read a blog post that gave some suggestions on how to make meditation easy. The author began by commenting that she knows meditation is good for her, and she’s read countless books on how to meditate as well as having attended meditation retreats & classes, but she’s left with the feeling that all these different techniques still feel like work.
I’m sure this is common for most people. Most of us have not been encouraged to meditate in our childhoods, and we haven’t been taught the art of meditation in school. But this should not deter us from something worthwhile.
Here’s the truth: meditation is NOT difficult. Meditation nudges our brain back into its natural state, and in its essence—as long as we are not resisting the process—meditation IS easy.
The difficulty comes in overcoming the initial inertia.
Have you ever learned how to ride a bicycle? Not so easy at first, is it? But if you were to hop on a bike right now, I bet you could ride it on your first try…sans training wheels. You don’t have to continually re-learn how to ride a bike every year. Likewise, you don’t have to keep working to go deeper into meditation once you become adept at the practice.
What is this inertia then, that stands in our way?
1. a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged : the bureaucratic inertia of government.
2. Physics: a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force. • resistance to change in some other physical property : the thermal inertia of the oceans will delay the full rise in temperature for a few decades.
Meditation does require initial work. Inertia wants to stay the same. The only way to change our current state of inertia is to act on it with an external force. We have to “do” something to cause that initial change. But once we put into motion a new meditation practice, and gain some headway & momentum, inertia is just as difficult to slow down.
Traditionally, yogis teach students to practice something called a sadhana. The sanskrit word literally means “a means of accomplishing something.” This is the homework assignment given from the Guru to the student. Notice I wrote home-WORK. Each of us must do this on our own. 🙂
The magic with a sadhana comes in understanding that the mind LOVES forming habits. It doesn’t necessarily care if they’re good habits or bad ones, just as long as we’ve created a habit, it hangs on tight! So a sadhana’s power comes in part by training us to form good, beneficial habits that lead to spiritual growth. The general consensus with yogis is that in order for a new habit to be solidified and take shape, one much practice a specific activity for 40 consecutive days. And it’s strict: if you miss a day, you gotta start over from scratch until you hit forty in a row.
A sadhana is designed to stretch us. Teachers may ask the student to wake up half an hour earlier every morning to complete their sadhana practice. And energetically, it may “stir the pot” so to speak. It helps us uncover poor habits, perhaps toxic relationships, things we may not like about ourselves. But once these things come to light, diligently following through the entire sadhana will help us release all that which no longer serves us. Essentially, you start to replace your bad habits with good ones. And that certainly turns into some great momentum that fuels us to work deeper and deeper.
Then… meditation no longer becomes work.
Inner growth—although complete with its initial growing pains—becomes nourishing to your entire being. And soon you won’t be able to live without it.
In starting a meditation practice, know that there will be some initial inertia to compete with. BUT…. and there’s a BIG “but” here!… inertia works the other way too! Once you create some meditating momentum, it becomes just as unlikely to slow it down.
In my next note, I’ll give you your very own homework assignment. 🙂 A sadhana to follow for 40 days…stay tuned!