Mindfulness meditation is not suited for everyone. First of all, you need to be calm. If you’re restless, easily distracted (or worse: you feel bored) during meditation, then it’s definitely not for you. Second, meditating shouldn’t take any effort. You should be able to easily hold a steady focus. If you’re losing your focus more then twice during a 10-minute meditation, then forget it.
Often I hear such beliefs from participants. Sometimes people know it’s not true, but emotionally it feels true to them.
The hidden belief is; ‘I’m perhaps one of the few who is really not suited for meditation.
Although this belief may feel really true, it’s certainly not. Mindfulness is suited for everyone. The reason why most people start doing mindfulness is exactly because they feel restless or stressed.
So why do we have such beliefs? One reason can be that it’s a belief we learned in our childhoods. Perhaps we had a critical parent or school teacher who repeatedly gave the message ‘You are not good enough’. In psychological terms this is called a schema.
In his latest book ‘Intimacy’, Paul Verhaeghe, a Belgian professor clinical psychology, offers also another explanation. Nowadays, we are continuously confronted with images. Images on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube. Images are powerful. We use them to build our own identities. And they have a direct impact on our subconsciousness.
When the images we see around us don’t correspond to our own experiences and capacities, then we experience ‘alienation’ (in Dutch: vervreemding).
Perhaps you like to test it for yourself.
Below you see two pictures.
1.Which picture do you associate more with meditation?
2.Imagine yourself doing a mindfulness meditation, one in which you try to allow difficult feelings. Which one of the two resembles more how you look like?
As we can’t escape from images, we can’t escape from (some degree of) alienation. Important is to prevent this alienation from sabotaging our mindfulness efforts. Our efforts are sabotaged if we wouldn’t start or continue doing mindfulness because of the idea that we’re not good enough or that we are not doing it good enough.
How do we prevent this?
First it’s important to become aware of your (subsonscious) beliefs regarding mindfulness. What do you feel is necessary to succesfully do mindfulness? How does ‘succesfully doing mindfulness’ look like for you?
Now you’re aware of these beliefs, don’t start arguing with them. You won’t manage to change them overnight. More important is to let these beliefs not dictate your mindfulness efforts.
Realise that everyone can do mindfulness, in any state. There’s no certain way ‘doing mindfulness’ should look like. And there’s not a certain result you should achieve with doing mindfulness.
The simple act of trying to bring your focus to what you sense (choose any of your senses) or think right now, that’s mindfulness meditation. Now you’ve finished reading this blog post, you just completed a 2-minutes meditation. Congratulations!