If you believe that meditation doesn’t work for you, it means you have desired outcomes in mind that are not being met.
Maybe you think there is a specific state, feeling, or awareness that you should have attained, but as yet, have not….. so you think your meditation is not working.
However, it’s more than likely that ‘meditation’ is not the problem. You may just need to change some aspects of your practice, your understanding, or your expectations to gain more of the benefits that practicing meditation brings.
With that in mind, I’ll share some ideas in this post that will help you to benefit more from your practice.
What Can I Do If Meditation Doesn’t Work?
If you’ve given it a ‘fair go’ and your meditation practice isn’t working for you, it’s a good idea to assess it and make some changes. You can change the type of meditation you are doing, change the duration and the intensity of your practice, join a group or go solo, add music or follow a guided app. And more importantly, you can evaluate your expectations to determine if you are being realistic.
What do you mean that meditation doesn’t work for you?
The word meditation is simple, however, it means different things to different people, religions, and spiritual groups. As we use it, it’s not a word that has a clear definition, and it’s also not a practice with clearly defined results that everyone will achieve.
Therefore, to understand why meditation may not work for you, first, you need to assess what your ideas about meditation are, what you are doing, and what results you are expecting to receive from your practice.
And then you have a set of references to begin to work out how you can get meditation working for you.
So, to begin, let’s put aside ‘attaining enlightenment’ as our primary goal for a moment. And instead, let’s assume, that like a majority of people, you want to become less stressed, more self-aware, and more mindful of your environment.
To attain these goals, you practice meditation…. (practice implies it is a process that will never be complete.)
You practice and you are not getting the results you want. Why?
1) How many months have you been consistently practicing for now? Have you really given it a fair go?
2) Did you learn a proven technique from someone who is a capable teacher? (I don’t think this is absolutely necessary for everyone…. but it may be appropriate for you?)
3) Do you understand the benefits of short-term and long-term meditation practices differ, and do your expectations fit within these parameters?
4) Are you approaching your sessions with a mindset favorable to achieving your realistic and desired results?
5) Are you attempting to practice after spending stressful hours in meetings or after doing a yoga class? It will make a huge difference to your results because your mental activity will be different in each case.
6) Is your practice space favorably set up for achieving a relaxed body and mind?
These and other questions should be considered before you right-off meditation as a practice that isn’t working for you. Because in all things in life, there is a clear relationship between cause and effect.
This means if you do everything in a certain way, gathering the appropriate causes and conditions, you can guarantee the right results will occur….. it cannot be any other way.
It also means that if some of your ‘conditions’ are not favorable to producing the result you want, you won’t achieve them…. and you may think that meditation doesn’t work for you. However, the reality is probably that you just need to change something or things about your practice.
How are you measuring the results of your meditation?
– Maybe, if you have been practicing diligently for a while now, other people have noticed a change in you that you have not yet perceived?
It’s often the case that because we are accumulating gradual changes over a longer period we may not be aware of the benefits we are receiving from our practice. However, others who only see us occasionally may more easily pick up on how we are being slowly transformed.
– Are you noticing that your mind is really busy while you are meditating and you can’t slow it down? This is normal, sometimes even years into practice.
– Are you using meditation as a ’pill’ to fix your ailments? If something stresses you out, and you expect to sit down, meditate for five minutes, and then feel at peace, I’m afraid you have unrealistic expectations…. unless you are a very experienced meditator.)
Meditation is a skill that develops over time with practice. Would you expect to be able to walk out on a golf course, for the first time, and hit a hole in one? No! So why would a beginner meditator expect to be able to dissolve their stress quickly and easily after practicing for a few months?
Your body and mind need to learn the necessary skills so that they become a habit before you can reach a state of inner peace regardless of the conditions in your life.
– Are you taking your practice out into your life, or is it staying on the mat? Ideally, we learn how to manage our minds through meditation. However, if we don’t apply the skills we develop to our lives beyond meditation, then we are wasting our time.
All forms of meditation include developing the ability to concentrate. And with this comes an improved awareness of ourselves, of others, and of our environment…. Therefore, take what you have learned and use it to improve the way you interact within the world to improve your life.
While meditation may not be easy for everyone, it is beneficial for everyone
If you are relatively new to meditation, you shouldn’t expect life-changing results to happen overnight. After all, everything worthwhile that we have learned has always taken time.
Skills including breath awareness and the ability to concentrate for minutes at a time may sound simple, however, if they are things we have not practiced before, they will take months, years, or decades for us to become proficient at.
So, give yourself a break, and before you give up, remember why you began practicing meditation in the first place.
Was it to better manage stress, to quiet your busy mind, to develop concentration skills, or to balance and improve your moods? Or to decrease your dependence on medications for conditions including depression and anxiety, to become more mindfully aware of the present moment, or improve your relationships?……
….. Whatever the reasons, you must understand that meditation alone is not going to solve all of your problems.
Over time, meditation will alter your mind and mental processes for the better. You will develop skills that will allow you to filter from your life the stuff that is not important so you can concentrate on the stuff that really matters to you.
This natural evolution for you means that you will get better results in the things that you pursue, leading to an overall better life experience…. And really, is this not the greatest reason we can have for continuing our practice?
We are all capable of meditating. However, it is not always easy, and some of us will take longer than others…..
…. your patience and consistency of practice are all that are required for you to succeed.