Why do we resist meditation?

November 19, 2009

Do you ever find yourself resisting meditation? Perhaps you’ve resolved to meditate regularly either because you think it’s good for you, or you’ve enjoyed meditating and what it does for you. And yet, for some reason, you find yourself resisting meditation. Georgina asked about this in a comment:

“I really love meditation and your podcasts have greatly assisted me and changed my life. But even though I love meditation and I know it is good for me, I find myself resisting doing it almost daily… why is that? Do you have any insight on why we resist meditation? Why I find it so hard to sit for just 10 minutes a day sometimes? Is it the mind not wanting you to go away from it?”

Before I comment, I’d like to invite you to share your experience with this. Do you find you resist meditation? How do you experience that resistance? Do you have any idea why you resist?

I know many people struggle with this. As I wrote to Georgina, the best thing is to investigate for yourself why you resist. It can help you get in touch with what the resistance is all about and lead to valuable insights. Often when we become conscious of the feelings and beliefs that underlie our behavior, we can find ways to make changes.

I suspect that the reason for the resistance may be different for different people, but a couple of possibilities come to mind. It may simply be the momentum in our busy lives that keeps us moving at fast speed, as well as our culture which is telling us to do, do, do.

Our culture doesn’t recognize a very fundamental principle, and that is that being rested and relaxed is the most important key to being creative and productive. Getting things done is equated with putting in time. With this deeply ingrained idea, we often don’t give ourselves permission to take time out for meditation. And then when we do take the time, the mind and and body are in such high gear that we feel restless. You may sit to meditate and find yourself feeling like you have to get up and go. Meditating requires that we be prepared for that and continue to experience the restlessness and let it unwind.

The resistance can also be emotional. All of our busyness keeps us from feeling things we don’t want to feel. Meditation gets us in touch with our inner experience, including our emotions. If there is something going on in our lives that troubles us or we are not comfortable with certain emotions, we may tend to avoid meditation. And yet, to be truly relaxed and present, which are both goals of meditation, we have to be able to experience our emotions.

What is your experience with this? Do you resist meditating sometimes, and do you know why?


28 Responses to “Why do we resist meditation?”

  1. Twitter Trackbacks for Why do we resist meditation? | Meditation Oasis [] on on November 19th, 2009 3:59 pm

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  2. Helen Sullivan on November 19th, 2009 9:37 pm

    i get into a habit of meditating and it help and while eveything is going along relatively smoothly it is easy to keep daily meditation, then life comes along and trips us up, whatever it is…conflict, sickness, blah blah, and suddenly those things which are good for us and support us…. eating well, meditation, exercise etc. get put aside, while we are dealing with the down times. Ironically the things we should still be doing. This happened to me recently and have started back into meditating and it took a couple of days to feel ok again. So I have decided whatever else is happening in my life I will make continuing meditation a non negotiable. Other supportive activities may fall by the wayside but meditation will be habitual and an everyday activity…

  3. Chris on November 20th, 2009 7:21 am

    For me it is because I get caught up in my ego voice and believe it is me. It spins tales of self-importance. Hard to recognize because I have always thought IT was me!

  4. Judith Richardson on November 20th, 2009 11:24 am

    I too sometimes have the same problem and I agree; we are saturated with the imposition of time in our lives. It almost seems like I am being self-indulgent when I sit and and meditate when I could be doing “other things” but I absolutely know in my heart that my meditation is a sacred time and I should give it the respect and honour it deserves. Thank your Georgina for raising this issue and for your blog Mary. I am going to allow myself to be more open to the flow of love and tranquility in my daily life.

  5. Mary on November 20th, 2009 11:25 am

    Helen, it’s so true we tend to let things go when we are doing well, and yet being regular with meditation (or exercise, etc.) can help keep is in a better place. A non-negotiable commitment to meditate is the way to go!

    Chris – you are taking this exploration of resistance to a whole other level. That’s such a huge discovery — that the “ego voice” isn’t you. Hard to talk about since we all have such different meanings for the word ego, but I think I get what you’re talking about. It’s a major shift and we have that realization over and over again… Would love to hear you elaborate on what you said here! It sounds like it’s along the lines of what Georgina was asking about in her original comment.

  6. Judith Richardson on November 20th, 2009 11:30 am

    Just been dwelling on Chris’s comment: That darned ego! I know where you are coming from Chris.

  7. Mary on November 20th, 2009 11:40 am

    You’re welcome, Judith. What a beautiful resolve “to be more open to the flow of love and tranquility in my daily life”! We are so programmed to “do” that the essence of living gets lost. What could be more important than experiencing the sweetness of “simply being”?

  8. karthik on November 20th, 2009 2:44 pm

    I used to time my meditation before, even at nights..
    I think this timing added to my resistance during meditation, because one of the thoughts was on guessing how much time was left.. But then I stopped timing my meditation and now,
    I know I can get up if I want to in the middle of my meditation. So I don’t think about time and usually I end up meditating for quite a bit of time.
    I also think that the more frequently one meditates, the more easier it is to sit down to meditate.
    I actually find it hard these days to stop meditating even for a day.. It just doesn’t feel right.

  9. Mary on November 20th, 2009 3:02 pm

    karthik, It’s really interesting to hear your experience with timing the meditation. It seems that feeling free to stop really helped you settle in to the process. When you are really regular with meditation, it can become a part of your daily routine, like eating or sleep. You really notice when you skip a meal or a night of sleep, and meditation provides another kind of meditation and nourishment that you miss!

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  11. Callie on November 21st, 2009 8:53 am

    If I try to go straight from restlessness to meditation it never works, to a certain extent it’s fighting against myself and medtiation. I try to sit back and observe myself, quietly not adding energy into the restlessness, and eventually it calms down.

    I often find that I need to slowly ease myself into meditation. And it helps me to remember that meditation can be in everything that I do. Meditation is not just sitting still for x amount of minutes, it’s about being aware of yourself, and being with yourself. Not fighting your flow, but embracing your flow in whatever that might mean. Sometimes that meditation flow can happen though activity, singing, walking, reading, writing, even working on projects.

    Once I find I have “empty energy” or energy that I think is distracting me to myself, I try to disengage with it and let it run its course. I stop trying to force it to go or to stop, I just let it do what it’s going to do. Then eventually it runs out and I get to the place of peace, then I can sit down quietly and I get more out of my attention quietly sitting.

  12. Mary on November 21st, 2009 10:02 am

    Callie, Thanks for sharing your experience with this. It reminded me that in some traditions yoga asanas and/or pranayama are done before meditation to smooth out the restlessness. You’ve found your own way to prepare for meditation.

    And yes — all of life can be a meditation. Great to hear your perspective!

  13. Sandra on December 9th, 2009 8:31 pm

    I believe the reason I resist meditation is that I quite often judge myself on how well I “do” things. I really enjoy practices that I feel I’m “good” at and I tend to avoid the ones that I feel I’m “bad” at. How do I stop the judge in me?

  14. Mary on December 10th, 2009 10:31 am

    The judge is something we all struggle with, Sandra. Learning to understand and react differently to that judge is a long-term project! Meditation can actually help us with that. Have you tried our guided meditations? Hopefully the message (in the meditations) that there is no right or wrong way to do them will help. They aren’t something you are good or bad at!

    You can listen to the guided meditations free via our podcast either on this website or on iTunes.

  15. Ian on December 27th, 2009 12:17 am

    For me, daily meditation requires discipline. I think we all know that we need to meditate. Contemplation is not enough. Yet the addiction to thought is so strong. It is from this place of thought addiction that we resist meditation. The urge to meditate comes from a deeper place. Discipline involves applying fortitude to resist the voice of the mind in favor of the voice of your inner being. I made a 100 day challenge of 20m per day to help me with the discipline I’ve often struggled with. Today is day 40 and it has been, and is beautiful. Thank you, Mary for these wonderful podcasts. You are a blessing.

  16. Mary on December 27th, 2009 10:12 am

    Ian, you are welcome. It does make such a difference when we meditate regularly! Enjoy the rest of your challenge. By the end of that, you will probably be so in the habit of meditating that you’ll find it easier to continue doing it.

  17. Kim on December 27th, 2009 5:27 pm

    I was so pleased to see this topic. I mistakenly thought I was the only one in resistance mode! I have been told for many years by many people that meditation would be so beneficial for me. I have resisted each time someone has mentioned it but I am intrigued and keep coming back to “thinking about” doing it. I resist because my ego does not want to be told what to do. I am now realizing how much of my life is ruled by my ego. I also think there is a fair amount of fear in what I will hear if I am silent. Thanks for letting me share.

  18. Mary on December 28th, 2009 10:20 am

    You’re welcome, Kim. Resistance to meditation isn’t at all unusual. It might be something as simple as resisting change, as we do with starting a healthier diet or exercise. Or it can be something more. It’s also not unusual to have some fear about what we might experience with meditation. If you want to try it, start with just a few minutes. Or you might want to try a moving meditation, such as Tai Chi or a walking meditation. Let us know how it goes if you do try it (you can always use our free podcast meditations to start).

  19. Georgina on March 12th, 2010 8:43 pm

    Mary, I wonder if you would consider doing a meditation to connect with your inner being / higher self / soul…. I really enjoy all your meditations and would really like one that helps me connect with my soul, and have wisdom, insight and healing come from there…. Or even just space to connect with my soul, sit with my inner being…just an idea, what do you think? Thank you continually for being part of my day. Regards, Georgina

  20. Mary on March 13th, 2010 9:57 am

    You are welcome, Georgina. This is a great request and I’ll add it to the list. I do think I’ll do something along these lines at some point. Thank you for asking…

  21. Amy Davis on May 31st, 2010 12:38 pm

    I came across this article by Bo Lozoff. “The Big Mistake about Meditation.” This has helped me (not necessarily about resistence, but about judging myself regarding my time in meditation. I do have resistance. I am going to go with the “non-negotiable commitment”. I keep other appointments. I need to keep the appointment to my spiritual well-being. Here is a link. Peace, Amy

  22. Mary on May 31st, 2010 1:40 pm

    Amy, for many years I had a “non-negotiable commitment”. I think it served me well!

  23. Valentina on November 15th, 2010 1:27 pm

    I am so happy to know I am not the only one resisting what´s good for me! Any tips on how to find out the reason for one´s resistance? Once I start meditating, I actually find it quite easy to just relax and let go, but maybe it is the lack of immediate results that stop me from coming back? I would love to know my reasons for resisting what a part of me clearly loves.

  24. Mary on November 17th, 2010 2:07 pm

    Valentina, try using the guided meditation for intuition the podcast, and ask why you resist. Best thing is to find a way to go within and see what your intuition tells you. Also, explore what you are looking for in meditation — what are the “immediate results” you want? Can you expect to feel them after one meditation, or do you need to practice regularly for a while and see how your life changes? The immediate results are usually something simple — just a sense of relaxation. The longer term results come for longer term practice.

  25. Mark on March 24th, 2011 4:28 pm

    I do encounter resistance sometimes, but being caught up in “busyness” often has something to do with it. I guess I just need to keep at it.

  26. Mary on March 24th, 2011 4:59 pm

    Mark, it’s difficult to overcome the “too busy to meditate” resistance. I’ve heard it said “if you’re too busy to meditate, you’re too busy”! I think overcoming that resistance requires a very strong motivation to meditate (fueled by a conviction of the value of it). It’s always hardest in the beginning to establish a new habit, but you might try committing to meditating every day for a number of days and then see if it makes a difference.

  27. Al on May 27th, 2015 6:06 am

    Being resourceful in finding meditation time helps keep us on the path. Try to enter the meditation zone when
    waiting for a doc or dentist, waking up in the middle of the night, sitting in the car or just sitting anytime we have a few minutes where nothing is going on. We are always with our engaging thoughts and our cell phones trying to keep ourselves entertained and seem to feel guilt whenever we just sit and do nothing. Guilt is ego business and the ego is described in teachings as a drunk monkey on speed, sick with Saint Vitus dance. I love how daily meditation time calms inner chatter. I’ve heard it said inner chatter is the root of all our conditionings. Thank you for your work.

  28. Mary on May 27th, 2015 12:06 pm

    You are welcome, Al!

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