Whether it’s losing weight or learning to meditate, motivation is the key.
The key to motivation is belief. The reality we each inhabit is entirely framed and contextualised by our beliefs about it.
I’ve tried for many years to meditate, because I believed it would help me find peace and happiness.
But for some reason I found it so difficult that I began to suspect it just wasn’t for me.
It’s not until recently that I understood why: meditation is really, really easy, but I believed it should be difficult.
I came to meditation and spiritual practice as a kind of epic journey and worthwhile accomplishment. I believed that in order to be worthwhile, the journey must be difficult.
And coupled with this was my desire for an identity and sense of self-worth. So meditation had to be difficult, to give me a feeling of accomplishment.
Making things easy
Many things in life are easy once you’ve worked out what you need to do.
But even “easy” things are difficult if you lack the motivation to do them.
Losing weight and meditation are great examples.
If I want to lose weight, know how to do it, but don’t do it, then clearly something is going wrong.
If I want to meditate, know how, but don’t…it’s a motivation issue and therefore a belief issue.
So why haven’t I been meditating every day?
To examine myself on this subject I imagine the scenario in which I meditate every day and bring that peace and ease into my life.
I notice a negative feeling in me as I imagine this scenario. It’s a bit like part of me feels left out of this scenario.
So part of me is resistant to what I want. This is inner conflict, and explains why I’ve struggled to do what I think I want.
The resistant part of me isn’t bad. It probably comes from an earlier time in life and represents different priorities and wants.
So part of me wants to meditate and feel good each day, and part of me wants something else, and the end result is inner conflict that comes across as a lack of motivation.
The next question to ask is: why? Why would part of me not want to meditate and feel good each day? What would I lose if I felt good each day….if I felt relaxed, easy, peaceful…
I need to get things done.
That’s the thought and the feeling that came up as I expanded on my desired state of ease and peace.
Part of me strongly (and with negative feelings) believes that I need to get things done, and this belief – and especially its emotional tone – conflicts with meditating and feeling peace and ease and relaxation.
By a process of self-examination this conflict is becoming conscious. Two parts of me that have never met are now connecting and I’m in a position to reconcile the implicit conflict between “getting things done” and “enjoying life in peace and ease”.
Resolving the conflict
It’s immediately clear to me that the desire to get things done is not a happy one. It feels bad, fearful, and stressed.
It no doubt stems from an earlier period in life when I was under strong external pressure to “get things done”. Back then it seemed like getting things done was the best way to remove that external pressure and find relief.
So this part of me isn’t bad or wrong. It was my best attempt to find relief and ease under very specific circumstances. I just haven’t updated it or examined it since then. I continued living my life with this belief operating quietly in the background.
Under external pressure it made sense to get things done so I could rest and play and be free from pressure. But that pressure no longer exists, and yet I’ve kept it alive in my mind for years.
As I tried to meditate in the past, these different parts of me tried to find their own balance by turning meditation into a difficult challenge that, if accomplished, would count as “getting things done”. But that’s not how meditation works.
While I wanted to meditate, part of me wanted to appease a sense of external pressure. It was only as I learned that meditation is actually meant to be easy that this conflict came to the fore, because nothing “easy” can placate the pressure I had internalised.
Updating old beliefs
Beliefs like “I have to get things done to relieve external pressure” don’t serve me anymore.
As I become conscious of them they lose their power and I am able to update these old beliefs with my new knowledge and clarity.
Now I can imagine again my desired scenario of meditating and allowing that ease and peace and relaxation and happiness to flow into every day.
And as I feel the resistance from the old beliefs, I can continue to expand on my desired scenario with words that soothe and neutralise the old belief: I don’t have to get anything done. I am relaxed and easy. My whole day feels like ease. There is no pressure on me to get anything done. There is nothing I need to do. There is nothing I ever need to get done. There will never be anything that needs to get done. There will never be any pressure on me.
Meditation is ease. Meditation is all I need to do. My whole day can be ease and relief and relaxation, and there is no one and no thing that can resist it.
I can feel the shift in my mind as these beliefs change. It will take continued practice because “getting things done” will crop up again in different contexts. But I’ve sown the seeds of the new belief and so long as I practice ease and relief the conflicts will resolve naturally.
Getting to the root
As I practice, the root beliefs in this conflict will eventually arise.
I create my reality. My beliefs literally create and form the reality I inhabit.
Why does meditation allow ease and peace and relaxation? Because reality is meant to be easy and peaceful and relaxing, it’s just beliefs like “I need to get things done!” that create conflict.
Meditation suspends those thoughts and beliefs and temporarily removes the conflict.
Time spent in meditation feeling good reinforces the intrinsic goodness of existence and weakens the hold of old beliefs.
And along the way, the act of meditating becomes a measure of motivation, and hence an indicator of the beliefs active within.