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?

Let it Be Guided Meditation

June 26, 2009

Our latest podcast, Let it Be Guided Meditation, is a variation on a theme. It’s the same theme that gave birth to the Simply Being, Effortless, and Letting Go meditations. It’s a theme that can be approached from many angles and given many names, but all of the names can be misleading. All these meditations point you to experience the essence of meditation. The words — effortless, letting go, simply being — are all meant to invoke a state of being that can’t be put into words.

I also use the phrase “let yourself be” in the meditation. That’s pretty easy to relate to. Being someone who tends to be hard on myself, I need to remind myself to let myself be quite a lot! But what is letting IT be?

What does it mean to “let it be”? Are there any words that can really capture what the meditative experience is like? What did those words mean to Paul Mc Cartney when he wrote Let it Be? What does it mean to you?

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Meditations for Stress

May 12, 2009

I recently had an email from someone under a great deal of stress asking which meditations to use to keep stress from making him sick and out of balance. Although anything that’s relaxing will help relieve stress, I recommended the following podcast episodes in particular:

  • Mini Relaxation Break
  • Breath Awareness
  • Simply Being
  • Effortless Meditation
  • Deep Rest
  • Letting Go

I recommended these particular meditations because they don’t have a specific focus or ask you to be active in any way. My sense is that they would allow for the deepest rest and therefore the most release of tension. When we are deeply relaxed, our body chemistry and muscles switch gears from the flight or fight response into a more relaxed style of functioning. The energy of the body can then go to work to release tension and recuperate.

Ultimately, though, I encourage you to try the various episodes for yourself. Try the ones whose titles and descriptions appeal most to you. That way you can see the effects of the various meditations. It just might be that a focused meditation would be most helpful with some specific types of stress. If you are grieving, for example, the Grief Meditation might be most useful.

(You can listen to our podcast on iTunes or on this page.)

Deep Rest Guided Meditation

February 26, 2009

I’m convinced that adequate rest is the most important factor for our health and well-being. We’re a culture of “doers” and so we might think of exercise first. I’d say exercise is a close second to rest, but being well-rested is the foundation of everything — our physical, psychological and spiritual well-being. Being well-rested means getting enough sleep at night, and it means taking breaks when you need them during the day. It means not pushing yourself until you’re over-tired.

With this in mind, it’s surprising that it’s taken me this long to create this new podcast episode “Deep Rest Guided Meditation”. Even though many of the meditations will help with getting rest, this meditation goes further with it. The whole focus is to rest completely — to let go of everything going on in our lives and allow the whole system to get a deep rest. Just beginning the meditation with that intention starts the process in motion.

It’s so easy to overlook the importance of rest, even though it’s essential to absolutely everything we do. Most of us have a sleep deficit. Most of us don’t get enough rest. If you have to wake up with an alarm, you are probably not getting enough sleep.

To suggest that you get enough sleep and enjoy the luxury of being really well rested is quite a radical thing to do in our culture, and yet with enough rest you’ll not only feel better, but make better decisions and get more done. Sleep deprivation accounts for all sorts of accidents and mistakes.

Hopefully you will come out of this meditation feeling more rested and refreshed, but there is also the possibility that you will feel even more tired. That’s because of the accumulated fatigue under the surface. We tend to override that fatigue in our rush to get things done. When you relax in this meditation, you may begin to notice just how tired you actually are. If that is your experience, find a time when you can do the meditation and have extra time to rest afterwards. Try to get more sleep.

I promise you that getting enough rest will not mean you get less done! I know when I’m well rested, I can be more creative and productive, not to mention enjoying things more.

Body Movements in Meditation

January 9, 2009

I’ve had a lot of questions about spontaneous body movements in meditation. People report shaking, the head moving, twitches and all sorts of other body movements. When these movements occur, it can be surprising and sometimes people feel concerned about them or want to know if they have any significance.

Regardless of what kind of movements you have and what you are experiencing before they happen and as they are occurring, body movements that come up in meditation are the primarily the result of two things: 1) release of tension from the deep relaxation of meditation; and 2) increased flow of energy in your body’s “energy field” (or “aura”) which starts to move “blocks”. In a sense these could be thought of as the same thing, but each explanation has a value in understanding your experience.

  1. Release of tension. This is quite obvious. When the body becomes deeply relaxed in meditation, muscles start to relax. Usually this would be felt as twitches and small movements such as your thumb jumping, but it could also be a larger movement — your head might suddenly turn.
  2. Increased flow of energy in the energy field moving through blocks. This is a more esoteric explanation, but you may actually feel the movement as being associated with “energy” (see some of the comments on the Sensing Energy during Meditation post). In this case, deep meditation is opening up some energy pathways and as more energy starts to flow it can hit up against blocks. As the energy dissolves the blocks, the body may spontaneously shake or twist and turn since everything that happens in our energy field is reflected in the body. (Read about the Human Energy Field.)

The question then is, what should I do about this? There’s really nothing you need to do unless the movements are too strong or disturbing you in some way. If that’s the case, you can simply open your eyes. This will help you to come out of the deep state you are in and the movements will naturally subside. Take it easy and come out of meditation slowly.

If the movements don’t disturb you, just let them happen without trying to manipulate them in any way. It’s better to not get involved with the movements, trying to make them happen or continue. Just let them happen spontaneously on their own, not resisting them and not getting involved with them. In a sense, you can treat them like thoughts in meditation.

Note: Of course, if you have unusual movements happening outside of meditation or have any other symptoms of concern, it’s always advisable to consult a health care provider to make sure there isn’t a medical condition you need to tend to.

Related post: Sensing Energy during Meditation

Beyond Pain Guided Meditation

October 12, 2007

We’ve just published our latest podcast episode, Beyond Pain. It was hard to come up with the right title for this one. The experience of pain is so complex. If we are speaking of physical pain, the pain itself is just a sensation in the body. Unless you are someone who enjoys pain, and there are some people who do, pain is much more than “just a sensation in the body”. It can create enormous suffering.

What makes the sensation of pain so difficult? Besides the fact that it can be so strong that it grabs our attention totally, making it difficult to focus on anything else, there are many ways that we suffer with pain. Much of the suffering comes from the thoughts and emotional reactions that we have along with the pain. It may trigger fear, sadness, anger, or frustration depending on our past experiences and beliefs. We may start to wonder how long it will go on, what it means, where it will go, and whether or not we’ll be able to endure it.

There may be some underlying feelings about the pain that are very subtle and not so obvious, like the sense that it is a punishment or due to our failings. It can bring up a sense of abandonment or betrayal. Pain can bring up all sorts of feelings. Next time you are experiencing pain, you can investigate what comes along with it and also whether the suffering you are experiencing with the pain is from the pain itself or everything else that it brings up.

The purpose of the Beyond Pain meditation is to bring about a greater sense of ease with the presence of pain. We may tend to tighten up and resist pain which in fact makes it worse. The meditation encourages you to relax into the pain, and to let go of the involvement with all the mind’s stories about the pain and the emotional reactions to it. It can help you come to a place of peace in spite of pain. Whether or not the feeling of pain becomes less, the suffering that comes with pain can be released.

We’d love to hear about your experiences with this meditation and invite you to comment!

Letting Go Meditation Podcast

August 10, 2007

Someone found this blog by searching on “letting go meditation”. Letting go is an essential element of all of our meditations. While many of them have a focus, such as the breath or awareness of the body, the focus always occurs on a background of letting go, so it made sense to do a meditation with this theme. Even though it’s a variation on other themes I’ve used, such as “simply being”, each theme gives us a slightly different angle and allows us to refine our meditation experience.

Letting go has to do with allowing whatever happens to happen. It has to do with not resisting thoughts, noise, emotions, sensations — not resisting anything. It gets tricky, though, when we try to allow things to happen. If we are in meditation with the intention to allow, chances are we will be manipulating our experience in some way. Everything will be buffered through the filter of the idea of allowing. It’s more a matter of noticing when we are resisting what is happening or trying to manipulate our experience in some way. When resistance or manipulation is noticed, it can be let go of quite naturally.

The value of guided meditation is that it can allow us to let go more, because we don’t so much have the sense that we are steering the process. It can allow us to relax more into the meditative state. Of course, guided meditations can have many different styles and approaches, so I am speaking about my own. Hopefully once you’ve used these meditations for awhile, you will be able to enter into a similar process on your own. If you are meditating on your own, you can always go back to the guided meditations anytime if meditation has become difficult and you need a refresher.

We’d love to hear about your experiences with meditation. Please feel free to comment on the blog!

“Relaxing into Healing” guided meditation podcast

May 4, 2007

I just added an episode to our Meditation Oasis podcast called “Relaxing into Healing”. It’s a very simple, direct approach to healing, and probably quite different from most guided meditations for healing.

The meditation is based on the idea that healing is in the nature of life. The natural intelligence of the body and psyche is always moving in the direction of healing. We can cooperate with this natural process of healing by being open to it, relaxing so that the maximum energy is available for healing, and allowing whatever needs to be healed to come fully into our awareness.

Being open to healing — In the beginning of the meditation, we set the intention to open to healing. This way we become more receptive to the process of healing.

Relaxing to free up energy for healing — We relax by letting go of resistance to whatever we are experiencing in our body, mind and emotions. Resistance takes energy, and we want to let that energy be used for healing.

Allowing what needs healing into our awareness — Finally, the guided meditation encourages you to allow everything to come into your awareness that needs healing. The idea isn’t to start thinking about it and analyzing it, but to simply experience it. Our attention is a beam of intelligent energy. Simply having something in our awareness brings energy to it. It may be a situation, an emotion or something in the body that needs healing. The meditation encourages you to simply allow yourself to experience whatever needs to be healed without judgment. In this way you hold a compassionate space for yourself to heal.

Relaxation as the ultimate spiritual state

April 20, 2007

I used to feel that relaxation was a somewhat insignificant by-product of meditation. Although I desperately needed to learn to relax when I started meditation, I needed to see myself as a seeker of enlightenment rather than the stressed out person that I was. For years I thought of meditation in very “lofty” terms. It wasn’t until I was recording our Pure Relaxation CD that it began to dawn on me that to be able to be totally relaxed is the ultimate sign of spiritual maturity.

Being able to relax is a reflection of everything that we seek spiritually. Think about what you are seeking on your spiritual path. How would relaxation fit into that picture? When I reflect on what I’ve longing for over the years, they are all the same as the ability to be totally relaxed. I’ve wanted to feel a sense of trust. How can you relax without trust? I’ve wanted to feel peace. If you are at peace, you are relaxed. I wanted spontaneity and freedom — can these occur without relaxation?

Relaxation happens when there is an absence of tension and holding. It happens in surrender. It happens when we let go. The sense that we have to defend ourselves or be guarded in any way is gone. When we are really relaxed, we are open and intimate with everything. There is no more self and other, there is only one.

Can you remember a time when you were totally relaxed? Would you see that as a spiritual experience?

Emotional Ease Meditation

March 18, 2007

My most recent podcast episode is a guided meditation for “emotional ease”. Those words may conjure up a vision of euphoria or floating in a comfortable cloud, but that’s not what it means. Although you’ll hopefully feel more relaxed and at ease after the meditation, it will be a result of being able to actually stay present to your emotions rather than resisting them or becoming mentally involved with them. Emotional ease is about being present to what is happening without struggling with it, and that includes feeling all emotions including those you may not want to feel, such as sadness, grief and anger.

Ease in living is not about life being easy. Life isn’t easy! It’s about the ability to flow with what happens, the “good” and “bad” events and the “pleasant” and “unpleasant” reactions to those events. While some guided meditations give us some respite from life’s storms and a chance to relax by encouraging visualizations of beautiful, relaxing places, my approach is to encourage surrender to whatever is happening right here, right now. While it can be helpful at times to escape, peace in life ultimately comes from being able to remain right in the heart of the storm (whether it is a storm of events or an emotional storm). I hope this latest meditation will help some of you with that!

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