If I told you that you weren’t capable of playing tennis or writing a poem, no matter how hard you tried you’d likely tell me, “I’ll show you!” Now if I said the same thing about meditation, many people seem to be willing to resign to saying that they aren’t capable. Providing reasons like their mind being too busy or that they simply can’t sit still.
While I don’t know the inner workings of anyone else’s mind, I’m pretty certain most people have very active minds and have a hard time sitting still. If you don’t believe me, ask any of your friends to sit and stare at a single object for 10–15 minutes. Or even 5 (okay how about 1). I’m pretty certain you’ll see you’re in good company! Why this is important, is because I believe meditation can be practiced by EVERYONE — not just by monks and your hippy friends.
If these monks hadn’t chosen this path, they might have become your colleague, classmate or maybe your best friend.
Who are monks? At their most fundamental level, they are just like you and me — normal people. Imperfect, perfect human beings. While they may wear non-traditional clothing and aren’t driven by making money, if you had met these humans when they were kids, they likely resembled any of us. But along the course of their life, they discovered a meditation practice that resonated with them and they decided to dedicate their life to fully exploring the practice. Not too dissimilar to people who dedicate their lives to becoming doctors, business people, or artists. If these monks hadn’t chosen this path, they might have become your colleague, classmate or maybe your best friend. They don’t have some special gene that makes them capable of meditating. They face the same mental struggles that all of us face, but like learning to play tennis or writing poetry, they learned how to meditate. And once they learned, they have been practicing ever since.
While for some people, meditation might come easily, struggling to develop a meditation practice, doesn’t mean the rest of us aren’t capable. I’m sure Roger Federer was a naturally gifted tennis player at a young age, but just because I’m not a pro tennis player like Mr. Federer, doesn’t mean I’m not capable of playing tennis and enjoying the benefits of playing. The same is true for meditation. While meditation may not come naturally to you, it doesn’t mean you can’t meditate. It simply means you need a little more practice or to find a technique that works for you. And with the large amount of scientific research demonstrating the wide range of benefits that meditation provides — ranging from reducing stress to improving focus, to decreasing memory loss — taking up a regular meditation practice could benefit anyone.
Like magic I learned to do the “impossible” — I learned to meditate.
For most of my life, I have balanced a very active social life with school or work. During both school and work, I have oftentimes also explored my entrepreneurial nature. Definitely not the “typical” monk, meditation mind. For years I struggled to meditate, most of the time I’d find my mind wandering or anxious to get up and work. After years of not being able to keep to a regular meditation practice, I decided to try a ten-day Vipassana meditation course. I’m so grateful I did. Like magic I learned to do the “impossible” — I learned to meditate. I was finally able to calm my very active mind. While I still struggle with a very active mind, it is much less of an issue. And as I continue to practice, I find I am much more conscious of my actions and how my mind is working.
We may never be as good at tennis as Roger Federer. Similarly, most of us will never meditate for 60,000 plus hours like Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. This doesn’t mean we can’t meditate or enjoy the benefits that meditation can bring us. As we learn to meditate, we remove the mysticism connected to meditation, and monks start to feel less like aliens from another planet, and more like our brothers and sisters.
So whether it’s meditation or something else remember with persistence, sufficient time to learn, and solid guidance you can do it.