How to Keep From Becoming a Meditation Dropout

I talk about meditation with nearly everyone I meet. It just comes up naturally when they ask me what I do.

“I teach meditation,” I always respond.

A common reply is, “I tried meditation.”

“What happened?” I ask.

“Oh, it was really good. Really helped me. But I lost it somewhere. I really should get back into it.”

Almost everybody knows that meditation is beneficial. Many have tried meditating. Even more have vague plans to meditate “some day.”

So why do people fail at meditation?

In my meditation classes, students fall into two groups.

The Successful Practitioners

The smaller group is made up of those who have a daily meditation habit. I don’t have to be concerned with these practitioners. I just give them the teachings and they do fine with few questions or problems.

They naturally work out any issues that arise in their daily practice themselves –just because they meditate daily. Their daily practice anchors them in one level before they receive the next teaching. This eliminates most problems. They remember what they’ve learned and they can use it.

They have the tools they need to take care of themselves.

The Dropouts

The larger group is where the most problems occur. I can be sure that nearly all of them will fail.

These people don’t develop a daily meditation habit. Instead they come to class with a long list of ever changing excuses about why they didn’t meditate and about the issues that arose that they can’t solve.

As the course progress, they constantly want new levels that they can’t realize without having mastered the basics first. Also, they can’t deal with arising issues by themselves because they’ve forgotten how to use (or have never used) the techniques they need for problem solving.

It’s very much like a math class. If they haven’t mastered the basics by doing their homework, they simply can’t do the advanced work.

They become frustrated, overwhelmed and dropout.

Not many return because they’ve failed –they’ve had a bad experience.

So sad.

10 Aids That Keep You From Becoming a Meditation Drop Out

1. Daily Practice. A strong daily practice becomes a habit. Once the habit is formed, you just keep doing it naturally in the same way that you do the rest of your daily routine.

2. A Set Time For Meditation. You probably have times to eat, sleep, work and perform most of the other functions of daily life. Set a time to meditate. Make it as much a part of your routine as brushing your teeth is. Morning is the best time to practice because your mind is fresh and uncluttered. Before bed is also good because it clears your mind of clutter, aiding in getting a peaceful night’s rest.

3. A Meditation Space. You’ve got special spaces for your sleeping, your cooking and your toilet. Your meditation space is even more important than these basics. Your Spiritual growth is the only thing that you take with you at death. All the rest gets left behind. Create the best space possible for yourself to meditate in.

4. Support Group. A supportive group of like-minded friends creates an invaluable group synergy that keeps you in the flow of meditation. You’ve got people around you to share the inevitable ups and downs with.

5. Teachers. A good teacher takes the hard work out of meditation. He will be able to simply give you the next level by using his mind to entrain yours. You immediately become able to meditate in the same states that he does. Then all you have to do is practice every day to anchor the state in yourself.

6. Practice Throughout the Day. The goal of every meditation practitioner should be Samadhi. Samadhi is simply being in a state of awareness 24/7. Meditating or chanting whenever the opportunity presents itself during the day is a good way to increase your time in awareness. You can chant a mantra while driving, or you can just be totally focused in the present while washing dishes. It’s not that difficult to achieve Samadhi with a good teacher and a strong practice.

7. Going On Retreat. Retreats give you something to anticipate –kind of like a gambler anticipates his next trip to Las Vegas. Only on retreat, you’re assured that you will gain the benefits. Your practice will deepen.

8. Reading About Meditation. Knowing about the lives of great practitioners, the struggles they went through and the heights they achieved gives you inspiration and the sure knowledge that others have done it before you. You can do it to.

9. Having a Deity. Deities are a controversial subject. Choosing the one that suits you in the present is probably best. You can always change later. Your meditation practice doesn’t care what deity it is. You benefit from having an inexhaustible source of love, wisdom and power to draw on.

10. Having a Meditation Goal. Achievable goals give you inspiration to keep practicing and satisfaction on reaching them. Set both short term and long term goals. Maybe your short term goal is becoming able to sit for an hour. You set your timer for a few extra minutes each day. Your long term goal could be Samadhi or building a rainbow light body. You keep reading about it and searching out practices and teachers that will get you there.

The best advice of all?

Just keep doing your practice.

Richard Crown

Richard Crown teaches personal meditation courses via Skype and telephone.

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8 Comments

  1. Great tips! I will try these for years and years I have been wanting to meditate and realized that if years ago I had started with even only 30 seconds how much meditation time would be in practice and normal for me! So I have started recently again. I am only doing 3 minutes and going to build on that. I just have to remember that it’s ok to start again if I miss a few days I can start again with my practice!

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  2. What is a good meditation space? Maybe a post suggestion?! ;)

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  3. Great article! You have provided very practical techniques to keep on meditating. Will share on my meditation page on Facebook. Thank you.

    Reply
  4. Why is it that people always end up quitting a habit that could really change their life for the better? Lately I’ve been experimenting with meditating at work, and in public. I just keep my eyes open, keep doing whatever I’m doing except I concentrate all of my focus on my physical body and motions. If I’m standing, I’ll pay attention to my feet touching the ground, my breath moving in and out of my lungs. It helps me calm down. Try it!

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  5. I just wanted to share with you that I don’t meditate at home because at home I can’t find peace, my mind rushes and it’s really hard for me to focus and not to think at all. That’s why I go to my yoga classes. I enjoy guided meditation since I can’t do it on my own. At this point I’m not strong enoguh or mature enough so I need help from others and my yoga really helps me with that. I hope that in time I’ll learn how to deal with my thoughts and how to find peace inside of me.

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  6. I was with you all the way up to step nine.

    People don’t realize, but there is an “inexhaustible source of love, wisdom and power” within each and every one of them.

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  7. thanks. i like the samadhi thing, 24×7. i am gonna practice it from today :)

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  8. also, falling out of practice is part of developing a dedicated practice! “dropping out” is actually super important in spiritual development, and also inevitable. it’s basically impossible to meditate every day of your life. life happens! just like in meditation, the returning to practice is the practice and where all the learning and growing lives. my response when people tell me me they used to meditation or want to get back to meditation or feel awful that they’ve failed or dropped out is always “great! now drop back in.”

    Reply

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