When I meet people in the latter group, I’m always a little perplexed. Why? Because to me, saying you can’t meditate is a bit like saying you can’t appreciate music, or that you don’t like eating.
Let me explain.
Meditation is an umbrella term
There are literally hundreds of different ways to practise meditation and mindfulness. You could repeat a mantra, scan your body, visualise a ‘safe space’, stare at a candle flame, observe your thoughts, delight in your senses, focus on the way you move, process your emotions, or focus on internal ‘energies’ – and that’s just for starters! For most people, however, meditation and mindfulness are very simple practices in which you focus on the breath.
All these meditation techniques can be presented in different contexts: religious, spiritual, secular or psychological. And they can be used for everything from stress relief to spiritual awakening.
Over the years, I’ve come to realise that everyone needs a personalised approach. If you’re attracted to ritual, tradition and things that are exotic or mysterious, you’ll be drawn to techniques and teachers quite different from those that appeal to someone who is scientifically minded and sceptical. And a person who is drawn to meditation as a way to cope with anxiety (or sleep better) will need different techniques to someone who is looking to develop their creativity or emotional intelligence.
An investment worthy of attention
Most people will also need to understand how meditation works in order to ‘buy into’ the process. When you understand the basics – what meditation is, how it works, and most importantly, what attitudes are most helpful – this enables you to adapt meditation to your own temperament and needs.
You’ll also need to learn that meditation is probably not what you think it is. Nearly everyone has picked up a whole lot of misinformation when it comes to meditation. However, when these myths and misconceptions are unmasked, you can begin to appreciate that meditation is much more natural than you might have assumed.
In this way, meditation becomes accessible and practical, even to those people who think they can’t meditate. You can learn that you don’t have to stop thinking, or sit still, or remain perfectly focused. You can learn that it’s OK to be distracted, and that you can even use these distractions to your advantage. You can also learn that meditation can be easy and enjoyable. Once you’ve found an approach suited to you, you will probably begin to look forward to meditation – in the same way you’d look forward to a delicious meal or good film.
Whichever of the myriad ways you find that works for you, once you develop a regular practice of meditating, you might wonder how you ever functioned without it. Meditation really is that good, and the only prerequisite is to have a mind – which means that anyone can make it work for them!
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