Why don’t more people meditate?


After all, meditation is so readily accessible in the U.S. now and has emerged in a variety of forms. The number of meditation offerings has increased exponentially… apps that can be downloaded, local meditation classes that you can attend, teachers who stand ready and willing to help you meditate. Meditation can change your life, they tell you. It can facilitate emotional healing and help resolve your health issues. It will teach you how to be mindful.


Yet, a lot of people (most people) don’t meditate. Why not? And why do some of those who do (or at least have) stop meditating?


Following are some of the most common reasons (some, possibly excuses!) along with a fresh perspective on why those reasons may be based on misperceptions of what meditation can actually do for them.


It’s Not A Priority Now.


The Complaint:  For many, meditation just doesn’t seem to be an immediate priority. They figure they’ll get to it at some point in their lives. More commonly, many think they should probably wait and explore meditation at a point when they’re less “active.” For some reason, meditation is wrongly associated with being physically inactive, or viewed as an activity you do when you have nothing else important to do. Meditation is sometimes viewed as a classic “postpone for retirement” candidate.


The Answer:  Meditation is a tremendous productivity-booster, problem-solver, creativity-inducer, and cognition-improver to name just a few benefits. Whatever you’re doing with your life now, meditation will help you do it better. Stress relief and mental health benefits are not the only reasons to meditate. In fact, they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Through continued meditation, for example, one can attain the higher reaches of consciousness and become a more self-actualized, self-realized, and ultimately, enlightened being. Such degrees of self-transcendence are much more difficult to achieve without a mechanism such as meditation to help drive them.


I Don’t Need Meditation — I’m Already Happy and Satisfied.


The Complaint: Many people view meditation as a practice that must be borne out of necessity — to solve a particular problem or health concern. If they’re already successful, generally content and have what they want, or at least most of it — money, success, fame, peace of mind — meditation seems “unnecessary.”


The Answer: Meditation is an investment that yields compounding returns that you can continue to draw upon at every stage of your life. The benefits are multi-faceted. If your current life is fulfilling, chances are, you’re the type of person who tends to do things right and be good at what you do. This means that if you were to try meditation, you’d likely be good at that, too. So the benefits you’d receive from meditation would likely fall at the high end of the spectrum of possible benefits. For you, the sky’s the limit. After all, one can never be too happy or too satisfied. And those who have never tried meditation may be operating from a position of unconscious incompetence — they don’t know what they don’t know. Meditation can offer a whole new universe of benefits that they cannot yet even conceive of.


It’s Hard to Cultivate A New Meditation Habit and/or Maintain The Habit.


The Complaint: Some people try meditation, enjoy it, and find its benefits useful, but they find it difficult to settle into a meditation habit, a regular routine. Others slip out of the meditation habit once they reach their initial goals — e.g., the main concern that brought them to meditation has been solved. Their hunger has been satiated. Complacency sets in and eventually they drop out. It is true that for those who aren’t hungry enough for meditation find it much more difficult to make the meditation habit permanent.


The Answer: There are meditation techniques that can help people develop and stick to meaningful meditation practice.  But they must be continually motivated by the clear benefits and outcomes meditation offers, or they probably won’t stick it out, or won’t meditate frequently enough to generate real benefits. These individuals may find that renewed motivation may come from learning more about the universe of deeper benefits that meditation can provide and setting new goals to achieve them.


For those who find it difficult to stick to the habit, these suggestions may help:

  • pinpoint the obstacles that are impeding your stick-to-itiveness,
  • identify desirable benefits and rewards of meditation and develop goals
  • experiment to determine what works and monitor your progress
  • enlist support from coaches and other practitioners


I tried meditation and it just didn’t work.


The Complaint: Unfortunately, this is a large group and that’s a shame. In fact, far too many people fall into this category, but there are a number of reasons for that.


The Answer: One of the main reasons is the excessive supply of new agey meditation techniques and offerings that seem to spring up almost daily. Many of them are half-baked, underpinned by limited knowledge. They tend to offer only basic, “low-end” stress relief benefits that could easily be achieved with other strategies (e.g., exercise). Many of these individuals are great at marketing, so people use their techniques as benchmarks to judge all forms of meditation, whereas, in reality, they’re absolutely not representative of effective techniques. Others sell meditation as a modern “trend” just to make a killing from the cult following that tends to accompany any trend. When the fad fades, so does their offering, along with the people who subscribed to it for a while. And unfortunately, these people may now be disillusioned with meditation, believing it “doesn’t work” because that meditation technique didnt.


Others who “fail” at meditation are meditation hoppers, constantly shopping around for a new form of meditation, hopping from one to another to see which one might work for them. And by constantly shopping around without sticking to any one technique, they will likely discover that none of them do. It’s not surprising that meditation hoppers don’t necessarily get great results since sticking to one form of meditation — the one that works for you — is the only way to reasonably expect results. Meditation is a journey within yourself.


Another problem for some who think meditation “failed” is that they expected meditation to deliver results at a pace that’s not reasonable. For example, they want a speedy “cure” for depression, which they’ve suffered for years, and they decide that a month is a reasonable period of time in which this cure should happen. Problem is, it generally takes years to develop mental or physical health problems, thus, resolution or reversal of these problems won’t happen overnight. In addition, we may suffer setbacks on our journey to achieving our goals, which may tack on additional “reversal” time.


Meditation is All Just Mumbo-Jumbo to Me —I Believe There’s No Substitute Hard Work and Personal Focus.


The Complaint: This is often a complaint from people who are go-getters, ambitious workers and serious about their goals. They’re self-directed, constantly busy and move through life at breakneck speed. They believe that everything they do moves them one step closer to achieving their goals — there’s no time to waste, no time to delve into unknown processes, especially if there’s no guarantee that they’ll move them closer to achieving their goals. They’re generally too impatient to sit, relax and meditate; after all, that would only slow them down, hinder their progress. And often, they’re operating under the misperception that meditation is for sissies!


The Answer: First, we appreciate people who are inner-directed and driven to succeed. In fact, we find that they actually may be likely to succeed at meditation (once they learn to relax a bit!). It’s also quite likely that, at some point in their lives, their own zeal for results and attaining greater and greater achievements will awaken their seeking urge for a journey like meditation, which can introduce them to higher planes of consciousness that they’re not even aware of. And when it happens, you can bet they will be successful.


How Do We Convince More People to Meditate?


Answer: We dont.


True meditation is an innate and personal experience, a journey that one must discover for oneself and choose to enter into entirely of one’s own free will.


We cannot change people’s desires or when they’ll want to try meditation. It’s an inner urge, the seeking urges. We start seeking new adventures in life due to a combination of circumstances or, dare we say, destiny. Read success stories of people who underwent major life changes and you’ll find that many received a “wake-up call” that launched their transformation. They decide that “enough is enough.” It’s time to improve. In other cases, people are devastated by circumstances in their lives and desperately driven to seek help — solutions. There are many roads that can lead to meditation, many reasons to seek solutions through meditation.


For some, the decision to try meditation is a defining moment in their lives, the moment when they decide that all those years of pondering, searching, struggling and “trying all kinds of stuff” has to stop. It is a powerful seeking moment. They’re presented with options and solutions; they ultimately choose one. The real solution, of course, is becoming a master of oneself. And this is always one of the most important goals of any credible meditation practice.


Circling back to our original question… “Why don’t more people meditate and what can we do about it?” I won’t offer the usual cliche answers… “Spread the word around, bring a friend or colleague to our meditation class.” Someone who’s offering some “Meditation ‘R Us” class in your city will likely also say that you get a discount for each class if you get a friend to “join.”


I’m going to tell you the opposite. I believe in the need to respect and accept people for who they are and what they believe. That means allowing their inner seeking urge to spark and ultimately run its own course. You could project yourself as the personality that meditation has created — the calm, peaceful, balanced and grounded person who’s unfazed by life’s ups and downs. You can bet that many people you know will then come to you for answers and assistance at some point in their lives when their “I need meditation” moment arrives. And then we share what we’ve learned from own practice and explain the benefits that meditation has to offer.


In other words, Show, don’t tell. Let them be amazed by the positive changes and outcomes they’re able to see in someone who meditates.