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Thu, December 26 2013

5 Reasons Not to Meditate

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I’ll be honest: I’ve never liked meditating. I’ve dabbled in it, and forced myself to sit for 30 day meditation challenges, and it was boring and hard. Plus life is so busy: Five minutes a day is a lot to ask!

There are so many types of meditation that just don’t jive with me. I don’t like the idea of sitting for twelve hours a day (some Vipassana styles), or getting whipped by a bamboo stick if I start to fall asleep (some Buddhist meditations). In classical yoga meditation, the intent seems to be to escape from the horrid reality of having a body into the bliss of nothingness. No thanks. This culture gives me (especially as a woman) enough reasons to try to escape my body. I’m trying to learn how to love it, here.

The truth is, more than anything, I am afraid of sitting still and feeling my feelings.

So lately, I’m facing my fears, and trying again. In the practice I’m trying, you lie down, feet on the floor, knees bent and resting against each other. You breathe into your belly and feel. Without the distraction of the knee, hip, and back pain that can arise from sitting upright, deeper emotions can rise up to the surface. You just relax and feel them. I’ve discovered five great reasons not to ever do this:

  1. You’ll have to feel your feelings. All that anxiety, anger, shame, and fear you’ve been trying to suppress (with drinking, eating, Facebook, being “busy”) will hit you with its full force. This is not a practice of rainbows and flowers. Ugly, uncomfortable feelings are trying to talk to you, and if you meditate, you give them the chance.
  1. You will lose the ability to lie to yourself. If you practice feeling what you feel, your mastery for self-deception will start to fail. It gets harder to convince yourself that this relationship is going to work or that you really do like your job, or that it’s okay to keep letting your boss talk down to you. You might even have to do something about it.
  1. Your powers of prevarication will weaken. Admitting to yourself what you really feel makes it that much harder to deceive others. You could get incredibly vulnerable, and it will show. You might have to tell someone you love them. Or that you need help. Or cry in public. 
  1. Your spiritual high horse may kick you off. Spirituality is not pretty. It’s not about positivity, or who can have the most inspiring Facebook feed. This kind of work is humbling. You’ll get a good long look at the mistakes you’ve made, and all the ridiculous and mundane thoughts that run through your head when you try to be still. You’ll realize how much we are all the same in this way.
  1. You’ll discover that you’re not actually all that busy. “Busy” has become a badge of honour in our fast-paced world where our fascinating lives are constantly on display through social media. It’s not that everyone else needs you so you have no time for yourself. It’s that you don’t want to spend time with yourself. Having nothing to do means emotions could arise, and as we’ve established, that’s terrifying. When we make it a practice to stare our lonely hearts down, we don’t have any more reason to be afraid.

In conclusion, don’t meditate. It could change your life. 

JC Peters's picture

Join yoga teacher JC Peters on a thoughtful, personal, hopeful exploration into the real life of yoga—how the philosophies and experiences of the practice can help us laugh at ourselves, deal with our deepest shadows, and move through life with grace, gratitude, and wonder.