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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.

Free e-book and more with your new (free) subscription to the Happiness Hub monthly e-zineThe 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.

~ Gavin

PS: Click on the links below to add your comments or to write your own Web page to share your views or experience as to why people stop meditating.

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Trauma Can Be A Cause
by: Gavin, Unlock Your Happiness.com

I recently received an e-mail from a lady in the USA. Here is an extract...

'You know I was reading about the reasons why people stop meditating. You missed one. One that has cost me many years of unhappiness. I used to meditate daily for over thirty minutes. Loved it immensely.

'I decided to work overseas in a humanity program. I was sent to ... an extremely chaotic and violent place. After I saw someone murdered I stopped meditating.

'I have not been able to pick it up again, even though I would do anything to go back in time so that I could again enjoy the benefits.

'Therefore, another reason for someone to stop meditating is because of trauma. Any words of advice to try to get back into meditating, because I know it is the only way to heal.'

Here is PART OF my e-mail response:

It seems from your e-mail that the meditation practice you used is now associated in your mind with your traumatic experience. So possibly the thought of taking up the practice again brings back very uncomfortable feelings and memories. It is just too painful for you to pick up where you left off.

So, what might work for you is to drop the notion of going back to 'meditation', and decide instead that what you need is some new means to bring happiness back into your life and to help with the healing process. Decide that you are going to start anew, with a different process that is not called meditation.

On my website I offer a free course (no strings attached) which I call Conscious Mental Rest. You could see this whole interaction -- from finding my website, to making contact, and this reply -- as a signal that now is the time to change things in your life for the better. You cannot undo the past, but you can act in the present to change the future.

I would suggest that you resolve to register for the course and follow the guided audio instructions and follow-up e-mails -- to incorporate Conscious Mental Rest into your daily routine.

See it as a new adventure, rather than going back to something that triggers emotional pain. It's a new beginning.

~ Gavin

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