Imagine someone who will take aspirin for a mild headache but, when they get a really bad headache, decides not to take the aspirin.
That’s what we do sometimes with meditation when we are under great stress or feeling unhappy or not feeling well. At the moment when we most need meditation, when mindfulness would be most valuable to us, we decide not to practice them. We don’t have time, or we don’t feel like it, or it doesn’t seem like they’re helping us.
I almost never say someone has to do this thing or must do that thing. But this is one instance in which I insist that you push through the resistance and practice meditation and mindfulness anyway, because I know that the payoff will be worth it. Stress is reduced, or we are better able to deal with it. Spirits are lifted, or we realize that it’s normal and okay to feel down sometimes. The psychological burden of “being sick” dissipates, and we recover more quickly.
So, try hardest to meditate at those times when the resistance to meditating is greatest. And take an aspirin when you’ve got a headache – we suffer enough without enduring maladies that are easily resolved.
My daughter is a sophomore in college. Among many eye-opening experiences I have had as a parent of a college student is discovering how stressful college has become.
In some ways, it is an exponential continuation of the experience of middle and high school, which seemed to me to be way more stressful than when I was that age. Granted, my 30th high school reunion was a couple of years ago, so perhaps my memory is dim. But I don’t think it is — I believe young people today are much more stressed in school than used to be the case.
All the more reason why students need to be taught meditation from an early age. I frequently share articles about meditation programs for students on the Dharma Beginner Facebook page and Twitter feed because I believe that meditation training is as essential — more essential, perhaps — to students as any academic subject they study.
The importance of meditation instruction and practice extends well beyond educational performance (though it is undeniably valuable in that regard). Young people need meditation to support their lives outside the classroom even more. School generally will end by the early 20s, but life will continue well beyond that.
Join me in supporting school-based meditation and mindfulness programs wherever you find them and in spreading the good word about their benefits.
Just a few examples…
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Everyone gets stressed out, even the “experts.”
How do you think they became so adept in the first place? They needed what meditation had to offer so much that they made a concerted effort to practice it. Meditation teachers are not superhuman, unless by superhuman you mean “even more subject to the frailties and flaws of being human.” They’ve been in the same place we all have, and they’ve survived in no small part because of their meditation practice.
So take heart: if they can do it, so can you. You have the very same ingredients in your being that they do, all the elements necessary to pursue a beneficial meditation practice and lead a mindful and compassionate life. Buddhists might say that we all have the same essential Buddha-nature inside us and, therefore, the same potential to achieve enlightenment.
All of us suffer and all of us desire to be free of suffering. That’s all that is necessary to begin meditating and for meditation to bear fruit.
Along those lines, here’s an article from Pooma Bell of Huffington Post titled, “What Does The Founder Of Meditation App ‘Headspace’ Do When He Gets Stressed Out?”
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