Considering my failures in the past, the most recent one should not have come as a shock. As in every prior instance, I felt committed. I had set aside a specific time every day. Most importantly, I had convinced myself that it was important. And yet, after two weeks, it became yet another in a line of failures.
No matter how important it might seem, I just can’t find the motivation to meditate.
This time around I even took to the task with earnest. Plagued by sleep issues that center on anxiety, I felt meditation could help calm and clear my mind — to give me a means of letting go. Those kinds of changes don’t occur overnight, but even at the end of the two weeks I was getting worse sleep than ever. Anxiety makes it tough to go to sleep, and consistently wakes me up throughout the night.
Why doesn’t meditation work for some people, even some who realize its benefits? I can’t speak for others, but for me it came down to time spent vs. results. I didn’t feel as though those daily sessions made any noticeable difference in my mood or in my anxiety levels. Pushing through that turns meditation into a chore rather than an exercise. It’s no wonder I’ve quit.
Another aspect that I’m more reluctant to mention is the plain boringness of traditional meditation. I used Jon Kabat-Zinn’s mindfulness methods, but they’re not unique. A conversation with my father, who meditates on the advice of a different author, revealed that they are very similar. Concentrate on your breathing; observe your thoughts but don’t follow them; scan your body from head to toe. It sounds great, but in practice it doesn’t quite work for me.
Traditional meditations is by no means the only way to achieve the ends I sought. Again, the goal is to let go of anxiety. You know what never fails to soothe my anxiety? Playing guitar. Not practicing guitar, not learning a new song, but simply blissing out to a song I know by heart. Starting today, that has become my meditation. For 15 minutes a day I’m going to let the world go and engage in this favorite past time. If today is any indicator, it will feel as though the outside world stops for those 15 minutes.
The idea of guitar-playing-as-meditation stemmed from the very anxiety issues that I hope it will alleviate. During these anxiety fits I notice that a certain few thoughts continue to crop up. They’re mostly of the “if I could go back in time” ilk, and lead me to pointless speculate how life would be different if I’d only studied in school; stayed organized at that job; practiced sports; saved money; gotten a scholarship; asked out that girl; showed commitment to music. No, playing songs for 15 minutes a day isn’t showing a commitment to music. It does, however, connect my meditation with my anxiety.
If this doesn’t work, then it’s onto the next thing. One thing is for certain, though: traditional meditation methods simply have not worked for me. Despite numerous attempts to meditate on a consistent basis, I continue to fail. Thankfully, there are other remedies for what ails me. After all, it’s about the end achieved, and not the road that gets me there.