Why Don’t I Meditate Regularly Anymore?

Question

I am going through a battle. A part of me is intensely spiritual, and I know that’s the aim of my life. But the other part of me just wants to run away from this. I have a toddler, a home to manage, a demanding job, and in spite of this, I think if I want badly enough I can manage at least 15-20 minutes and be attuned the rest of the time. I waste time fiddling with mobile etc. but make excuses for not meditating. I loved it when I was meditating regularly. I am straying away. Why am I self-sabotaging? Help me.

—Piu, India

Answer

Dear Piu,

Almost everyone feels a similar challenge, especially when their lives are as full as yours. So let’s explore how to recapture your meditation habit.

First, think in terms of short meditations. It’s easy to think, “Well, I can’t meditate for 20 minutes, so I won’t meditate at all.” That’s a false dichotomy, the ego’s trick to get you not to meditate. But if you truly don’t have time to meditate for 20 minutes, then meditate for 10. If even 10 is too much, do 5. And I suspect that you can do 5, right? So, do it — every day! Set the bar at a height that you know you can clear, and clear it regularly. As long as your practice is spotty, there will be more and more obstacles in your way. But the universe conspires to assist the regular meditator, even if that person meditates only for 5 minutes a day.

Occasionally you’ll have a day when even a 5-minute meditation is impossible. That’s okay, just don’t let that bump in the road make you think, “I’ve failed as a regular meditator.” Occasionally missing a practice doesn’t make you a failure. That’s another trick of the ego; don’t buy into it. When you fall off the horse, get right back on it.

You wrote: “if I want it enough, I think I can manage 15 – 20 minutes.” This tells me that you don’t want it enough. Well, no one — not even God — can make you want it enough. That must come from you. So work on increasing your desire — not a desire to meditate, but rather a desire for the fruits of meditation, what you loved about it when you were meditating regularly. Was it peace? Love? Joy? The experience of God’s presence? You need to make that desire strong, and back it up with the self-discipline that gets you meditating even when you don’t feel the desire.

Try this: Whenever you have a moment, recall the feeling of what regular meditation gave you. Not the idea of it, or the thought “I ought to be doing that again,” but the feeling of it. Ask yourself, “What would it be like if I had that feeling right now?” If you clearly imagine that feeling, get into it, and enjoy it – it will feed your desire to have it again. The stronger that desire becomes, the more it will motivate you to meditate. Feelings are much more motivating than ideas.

Chanting is another aid; it awakens the heart’s longing for Spirit, a powerful motivator. And when you cannot sing aloud due to circumstances, sing in your heart, or practice japa (repeating a mantra or phrase mentally). In this way, keep as much of a constant connection with God as you can. That too will motivate you to feel the deeper connection that you can feel only in the stillness of meditation. Ananda offers many chant recordings. This website offers the recordings as CDs; you can also get many of them as MP3 downloads on various popular sites. And your native India is simply full of chant recordings.

Finally, you asked us for help with this, but have you asked God for help? God won’t do it for you but much can happen if you make your re-entry into regular meditation into a joint venture with God. Remember: You have a very powerful Friend in a very high place waiting to help you if you will make an effort. It’s time to stop asking, “Why am I self-sabotaging?” and simply stop doing that and start meditating. God will help if you make the effort.

All in all, Piu, do the little things that you can do with God and don’t lament the bigger things that you cannot yet do. You will be wonderfully surprised at how fulfilling those little things become and how quickly they turn into bigger things.

Blessings on your practice,
Nayaswami Gyandev