Why Do People Stop Meditating?
by Gavin Hoole
(Cape Town, South Africa)
Given the reported benefits of meditation, then why do people stop meditating after they've decided to learn a meditation technique? Without having searched for hard research studies on this question, plain common sense and thirty five years' experience with meditation and meditating people has shown me there are several reasons why people stop meditating regularly. As everyone is different, each person would have their own reason or combination of reasons. Here are my suggestions, in no particular order.
Don't have the time:
A person may find that their life is just be too busy and hectic to make it seem feasible to continue with one or two 15 to 30-minute sessions of meditation a day. I imagine that this feeling applies more to people who decide not to learn to meditate in the first place. But it is also a reason why people stop meditating after a while.Unfulfilled expectations:
With all the reports about the benefits of meditation, I'm sure there must be lots of people who feel disappointed because they expected more dramatic results sooner.Nothing was happening during meditation:
With talk about transcending, bliss and so on, there must be those who expected to have some kind of vivid, life-changing experiences during their meditation sessions. However, after not having had these, after some time they decide it's simply not worth spending the time sitting quietly for daily sessions of meditation.Pressures and warnings from others:
I was once called 'evil' by a family in-law because I meditated using a technique from an Eastern Vedic tradition. I've known of meditators who, because of such outside warnings, even pressures, decided to stop meditating. They felt they might be getting deeper into something that could be contrary to their religious beliefs or even dangerous for their spiritual well-being.It didn't seem to be working anymore:
This is quite a common experience I've heard from people. The thing is, when one starts something like an effective meditation technique, the mind-body system begins to normalize itself away from being so stressed and out of sync with natural living. So there can be noticeable shifts
in one's experience of life. Then, after a while, the contrast between 'before' and 'after' is not always so noticeable. So the incentive to keep going with meditating daily becomes less. Eventually life's happenings distract one and the person simply no longer feels the need for meditation.Couldn't get it 'right':
The technique seemed too difficult to master and it just didn't feel that it was worth the effort. This applies particular to meditation methods that indeed do require effort or some technique that must be learned and practised.Becoming a slave to the schedule:
Some people find the routine of daily meditation stifles their freedom and makes them a slave to the clock. Outside arrangements need to be fitted in around their morning and evening meditation time-slot. This results in stress and people feel it defeats the whole purpose of meditation anyway.My own views:
There is no doubt that an effective meditation method does bring benefits, subtly and progressively. Yet it is important to choose a method that is not only effective but is also comfortable for you and not alien to your belief system. Further, it is helpful to keep meditation as something you voluntarily choose to use, and not allow yourself to feel that it has become your master and rules your life.
The method I use is called Conscious Mental Rest
, which is not aligned with any particular belief system or tradition, is completely natural and gentle, and compatible with any beliefs or non-beliefs. CMR offers no promises of transcendence, bliss or esoteric experiences. It is therefore approached without expectation other than that when used correctly and regularly over time it will indeed help to reduce stress and unlock inner happiness for daily living.
There's no need to believe any of this. Simply try CMR
for yourself and you decide. A free course is offered on this website.
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