Overcoming Resistance to Meditation

 Meditation is the core practice of a spiritual path. (By “meditation” I mean sitting quietly and simply being with Mind, not reaching for an altered state). Why and how you meditate evolves over time, but its centrality to gaining inner peace cannot be overemphasized. Unfortunately, it is also the most difficult practice because your mind’s resistance to it is strong. You are mind and meditation should be natural. And it will become so as you become more aware that you are mind. But in your unnatural state of identification with a self (body/personality) you (a mind) find unnatural what is natural. The driver of your identification with a self, the personal thought system (ego), is threatened by anything that turns you inward to the mind. This is the source of your resistance (and why so many give up on meditation).

When my clients complain about their resistance to meditation I suggest that they pay attention to the feelings and thoughts that come up when they try to meditate. Feelings and thoughts reveal unconscious and conscious beliefs. The beliefs that emerge when you are resistant are the obstacles that need to be revealed, examined, and undone. This is not only so that you can meditate but also so that you can ultimately find lasting peace.

It is also helpful to know why you meditate. Reminding yourself of this can help motivate you:

I am mind and meditation gets me in touch with mind. It helps me get in touch with what I am.

Through meditation I learn what is in my mind. My beliefs are the source of my attitudes, behaviors, and choices. Knowing my beliefs helps me to understand what motivates my attitudes, behaviors and choices.

In meditation I can process out thoughts and feelings so my mind will quiet. This will help me not just throughout the day but also to unwind and to sleep.

The Truth is in my mind and the awareness of Truth is the only way to lasting peace.

As I grow aware of Truth, the Quiet Center of my mind, through formal meditation, I will take this Quiet with me as I go about my day.

As my mind quiets and slows through meditation I gain time to respond to my thoughts before I react from them.

The  quieter, slower mind I gain through meditation helps me intuit the flow of the universe. I find and live in the flow rather than force my way through life. This is a much more harmonious way to be in the world.

You have to be willing to face incredible discomfort when you first learn to meditate. In time resistance ebbs – but then it will flow back again. You just have to ride out each wave of resistance and recognize that it helps you to get in touch with the false beliefs in your mind. But the quiet, slower mind and the peace that come from the awareness of Truth are well worth the effort to meditate. And after a long while meditation will require less effort as you desire its results.

There is no one right way to meditate. Some need quiet; some like to be guided. Others like music or chanting. It may work better to have your eyes open rather than closed. You need to be flexible as what works for you for a while may need to be dropped for a new approach. Don’t seek immediate results. Results may or may not show up when you meditate, but they will show up as you go about your life. At first these results may be a dramatic contrast to what you are used to. But as you integrate meditation into your life the results will be more subtle. They will become your new normal. Then you may only recognize what meditation brings to you when you do not meditate. But your peace of mind is worth both persistence and consistency.

If you have obstacles to peace or to the practice that would help you maintain peace, why not speak with someone who has experience working through them? You can email me to set up an appointment at Liz@acimmentor.com. Learn more at www.acimmentor.com.

If you have a question the answer to which you think will help others email it to me at Liz@acimmentor.com and indicate that you want it answered in the newsletter/blog.


Jeremy said…
Thank you, Liz! I have read many guides for the practice of meditation to help address my resistance it. At first glance this simple, brief posting seems to be the most useful guidance I have found. It is succinct and thorough. And it seems to find me at the perfect moment. I am eager to meditate and now feel I have the support and guidance that I need. This posting, along with many others found here, has pointed me to the support of the Holy Spirit within me and to the real purpose of meditation.
hannah said…
thanks liz. you are certainly like a lighthouse when the resistance-fog is thick.

'Don’t seek immediate results.' im finding patience very hard to cultivate, recognising how many blocks to peace i still have , how short a way i have come in ten years! meditation over this last few weeks has shown me how many things i still believe in i thought id moved past.. two mornings ago i saw how deeply i still believe in sin rather than error. disappointing, but also relieving, right there in that instant. as in.. well, yes, this feeling of anger simply couldnt be present if you didnt still believe strongly in sin. there was relief in the honesty about that.
ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah, remember the ego always speaks first. It is always going to react as thought an error is sin. Just recognize where that comes from and then remember an error is not sin. You may find that you cannot yet see this, but there will come a time when you work out your belief in guilt (sin). In the meantime, just don't let the ego have the last word...
hannah said…
oh, reading your reply i also remembered that there is really only one block, one problem. i was seeing the recognition of how much i believe in guilt still, as another problem to add to the pile. now i see why i actually expereinced relief in that moment. laugh, i just saw it (belief in guilt and the projections of that belief) like mycelium and mushrooms. its not perfect imagery, but it did make me laugh!

liz, i did imagine that when i worked through the initial resistance and started meditating regularly, i would find it easier to let people and situations be, that i wouldnt have to work as hard at being gentle or kind. what i am experiencing is that im feeling and being less patient. um.. oh, maybe thats not accurate, connecting these lash-out experiences with the choice and experience of meditating. it is very difficult for me not to feel VERY guilty when i snap in impatience at others, or at myself for that matter, but at my loved ones feels worse as far as obvious guilt. what i have been focusing on is recalling that this is a universal ego dynamic which doesnt effect the truth in me, or in anyone, and not letting the feeling of guilt amplify and domino into making more drama. but i feel, when i am impatient, unkind and exacting, (as in, it should be THIS way, dammit), that i am damaging something innocent and beautiful. i feel like a beast. oh!! i feel like my dad. oh golly, well, now i see it it is incredibly obvious! i truly do not want to use him as a scapegoat anymore liz.

oh, all this complicated past-connective-to-this-current-expereince-of-self stuff just seems so unnecessary, truth is so simple. right now i feel resentment at 'needing' to work through layers like this! almost like.. im just.... MAKING problems, and layers, clinging to them. but.. i DO need to go through this stuff because part of me believes it right? i hear ken saying you cant skip steps, while you believe in the self you 'need' the ladder of undoing. liz, you know how i said i feel like i damage innocence? i even feel like writing this out here is somehow.. tainting something beautiful. my heart is doing weird stuff writing it, i feel like im exposing the ugly truth about me, that im the rotten apple that will spoil the whole barrel. ok, now that simply cannot be the truth.
Deb said…
We are never alone. The "state" of meditation is the discovery of your true power that is transformative. There comes a realization with detachment, "oh that silly woman Deb, that one who can be impatient or obsessive about cleanliness and order" and also a loving acceptance is felt in the heart and judgment falls away. In this realization, my essential nature is recognized as infinite patience and perfectly perfect.

Trust grows as the Power of Presence.

Happy is the one that trust's the unfolding and uses the power of attention for it's greatest potential towards the true.

Infinite love, Deb
ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah, you just simply got in touch with what is really going on in the ego - the guilt, the sinner, the "bad apple". That's what that thought system will teach you. The Other thought system will lead you to Truth rather than try to change the faulty thought system. The peeling away layers is layers of story and layers of belief. You find out what is going on in your mind. You cannot fix the ego thought system, but you can learn how it runs you as long as long as you run with it. And then you can "choose once again". Notice the Text of ACIM does not end at "you've arrived"! (Which really bummed me long ago). What it ends at is, "Choose Once Again" in the recognition that you will vacillate between the two thought systems for a long while. When you are willing to be gentle with yourself you will find that you are gentle with others.
hannah said…
liz and deb, big big appreciation ladies! thanks for helping with this moments lessening of self pity x

liz, thinking about these facts 'The Other thought system will lead you to Truth rather than try to change the faulty thought system.' and 'You cannot fix the ego thought system, but you can learn how it runs you as long as long as you run with it. And then you can "choose once again"' triggered another realisation/accepting/feeling of how truth and not-truth cannot be blended. thank you again very much for that x
hannah said…
it is difficult to accept the 'long time' part of this. but i believe what you are saying is, that what i will connect with within in meditation will alter how i relate to myself, which i can see has the potential to lessen? let go? the fear of time. i fear time with all this because i fear continuation of the loneliness. or at least, that is how i see it now.
Deb said…
I could not not share. As I continue the work on hearing guidance, I open the complete and annotated edition of ACIM and miraculously open to the cameos in the back #18 titled "Meditation and Guidance" and so I share.

Evidently Helen experienced difficulties with meditation and Bill with guidance. To Helen's question about her reactions to meditation and also Bill's question, Jesus' explanation . . ."The reason for the fear reaction is quite apparent. You have not yet been able to suspend judgment, and merely succeeded in weakening your control over it. Since you have a tendency to be self punishing, you believe that control of judgment is a self preserving function, and therefore require it as a necessary defense of your self. Weakening this defense deliberately is thus perceived as dangerous vulnerability, which frightens you."

This cameo proved to be helpful Guidance to this mind.
hannah said…
cheers deb, that is VERY helpful again. much love xxxx it reminds me that what is not love is a call for love, which im sure will help with the being gentle x hugs x
ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah, I, too, had great difficulty with the process taking time. But I realized it was like any journey. To get There I had to deal with the step in front of me right now. I had to deal with what was here in front of me today and not worry about what was up ahead (one day at a time, as they say in 12-step programs). And I could be with Truth now even if I didn't experience It fully and wouldn't stay in an awareness of It. This is the dichotomy of the this path: You can be in Truth in the Holy Instant at any time. But then you are back in time and seem to have to still reach Truth. You can focus on being with Truth now, here, today. Or you can speculate on the journey ahead.
hannah said…
liz, that was perfect, thank you, totally brilliant.
hannah said…
i feel like a basic texture of the fabric (um.. foundation perception?) has shifted after reading that post this morning liz.

reading this 'And I could be with Truth now even if I didn't experience It fully and wouldn't stay in an awareness of It.' this morning was one of those moments. i still had an idea in my mind that the holy instant was only the 'full' experience, the higher miracle experience, as opposed to that dear, sweet moment of openness as well. or am i mistaken in understanding what you meant? either way, i feel like that choice to 'be still an instant' has greater value? more peace? to me than it did yesterday. i call them 'Mu' breaths, Mu being a zen koan meaning 'without'. big thanks x
ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah, that is what I meant. The Holy Instant can be anything instant that you touch Truth to whatever degree, from hearing or feeling the HS all the way up to direct Revelation.
hannah said…
thank you, that seems obvious now! i DO keep finding ive had erroneous ideas about some of these basic concepts. the errors actually seem to be tied in with an idea of a goal decreed by 'god', perfectionism, and an unwillingness/fear to be where i am now, leading to my mind holding a perception of what these things mean in my head that is 'just out of reach', which has held me in self doubt and lack of trust of HS. hmmm... 'You can focus on being with Truth now, here, today. Or you can speculate on the journey ahead.' so helpful liz, thanks again x
Desert Man said…
Hi Liz.

The first paragraph of this exercise starts with "I am mind..." The second paragraph includes the phrase "... in my mind".

This discrepancy, if that is the right word is common. What's your take? Are you a mind? Or do you have a mind? (In time, of course.)
ACIM Mentor said…
Desert Man, as it says in ACIM, at the level of Truth, to have and to be are the same thing. What Mind is Mind has. For example, Mind is Peace so Mind has Peace. This is different from mind at the level of form (in time). Just as with other forms, what you are and what you have can be different (I have a car but I am not a car). The distortion of mind (Formlessness) at the level of form is that mind can have thoughts, which, as forms, are not part of it. So, you are mind and your mind has thoughts (forms).
Unknown said…
Thanks, Liz. The level of Truth definition makes sense to me. I didn't specify, but I am thinking in terms of this exercise. But as I write this, I have concluded that your readers wouldn't, on the whole, have a problem with the equivalence of beingness and havingness, making my point moot. 🎆
hannah said…
i found it helpful james, that last reply of liz' is so helpful. i seem to need a LOT of repetition before my mind maintains a concept! so i for one appreciate your question.. cheers :)

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