Why Can’t I Meditate?

Almost everyone has tried and failed at meditation. We don’t have time, we get distracted, spurious thoughts ruin our concentration, we fall asleep, it just doesn’t work, or any one of 127 other reasons keep us from finding a few minutes to sit each day.

This is rich fodder for self-condemnation, but the reason you have been unable to meditate has nothing to do with meditation. It expresses a deeper resistance that is vital to explore because it is one of the doorways to your healing.

Meditation asks you to open. It urges you to reach deeply to what is inside. And, of course, that’s the problem. Meditation brings the threat that being open and vulnerable poses to the structure you have created around your inner feelings of unworthiness. We work so hard to conceal our unworthiness that it is understandable that when confronted with the opportunity to open, even in the extremely private space of meditation, we resist.

At some level, some part of you is afraid of what openness will either ask of you or expose you to. This is not an inconsequential matter. The fear of that exposure can be of such magnitude that some people will pay almost any price to avoid it. They will ruin their health, destroy their families, damage their children, wreck careers, loose their homes and otherwise devastate their lives, rather than face the hell that they think lurks inside. Ask any alcoholic or addict.

But, you don’t have to be an addict to be affected by this phenomenon. Most people cling to inner wounding that they do not want to explore. What is interesting about this is the ostrich-like quality to our denial. We bury our heads in the sand, pretending that our feelings of inadequacy will not show while everyone who wants to can see our feelings as though we were wearing neon signs announcing them. You may not be as extreme as a drug addict or an alcoholic, but your reluctance to address your feelings of unworthiness keeps you from healing, and incidentally is also why it has been difficult for you to meditate.

Although you live in your private unhappiness, it is important for you to know that you are not alone. The universal human condition is to feel inwardly unworthy. I cannot say that absolutely everyone on the planet struggles with this issue, but most people do and even most of the rest who seem to not be affected by it, are only compensating. The nagging voice of unworthiness lurks within each of us. And anytime you see something universal in the human condition, it is safe to assume that there is much more going on. And that is certainly true in this case.

It is important to ask why we fell unworthy, because although this emotion feels personal, your unworthiness is not about you, it is about your process.

The purpose of life on earth is to learn the truth about ourselves. And as uncomfortable as it may seem, the most effective way to learn the truth is to experience its opposite. At this stage in our development we learn far more from our mistakes that we do from our successes. As we develop further the process this changes, but that is another subject.

Over thousands of years, mankind has been passing through The Age of Karma, a period designed to create feelings of unworthiness. The ball of contraction you feel in your gut is the accumulated collection of lifetime after lifetime of “failure” as you tried, failed, and felt abandoned by God. The anger, pain and frustration held by humankind in its collective gut is what will propel us into the new age we have recently entered, The Age of Awakening.

As with many spiritual considerations, you have been placed in a situation with a predetermined outcome. You feel unworthy, but there is no way you can be unworthy, and that truth will determine the outcome of your struggle. At some point, no matter what circuitous route you take, you must come to know the truth about who and what you are. That is why life is the way it is. And when we resist, we can turn it into a rough and painful process but that is part of our learning also.

You can argue with the Creator about it being a stupid process. I did for years, and I will tell you that it is a waste of time. Certainly it is no fun to feel unworthy, but those feelings also push us to change. After years of struggle I now see the perfection of the process. And it is perfect, regardless of how it feels to you today.

Interestingly enough, our ancestors had an understanding of the process of life that has largely been lost to us today. They passed that understanding on in the form of fairy tales. Although discredited in the West, a classic fairy tale is a condensation of hundreds, perhaps thousands of years of experience in dealing with life. It is almost criminal to relegate this collected wisdom to the children’s section the library, but this is the view that scientific rationality holds toward mythology. In relegating these stories to the basement, modern society has turned its back on its past as it did when it banished the rituals and ceremonies that guided our people for thousands of years.

In the context of dealing with unworthiness I would call your attention to stories dealing with dragons, otherwise known as “The Hero or Heroine’s Journey.” I wrote a lengthy discussion about this topic in my book, Healing The Shadow, and rather than reproduce the whole piece here, I have placed it on the web site www.rossbishop.com under the “You Asked” section. Look for the title “Dealing With Dragons.” I hope that you will take the time to go there and read it.

For our purposes, let me take a couple of salient points from that discussion. First, you must understand that a dragon, like your unworthiness, is a mythical creation. This is intentional in both cases. The adversary in this case must be mythical. If it were real, you could not possibly get past it, and that is a crucial point.

The Hero’s journey is a metaphor for the pilgrimage into the darkness to bring those “unacceptable” aspects of the self into conscious awareness. It involves bringing our wounds into the light of truth so they can be healed and your life made richer and fuller.

The dragon is a personification of the animalistic nature of our unconscious dark side, of the shadow. He is the beast that dwells in the damp, dark dungeon where we confine our woundedness. This is our primal energy and we fear it. After all, when it acts out of the unconscious, it can do great damage.

Dragons, like our dark side, must be called out in order to be dealt with. You have to go in to the cave. You must generate the intention to deal with it. You won’t get far sitting in your living room, reading a book about it.

In fairly tales, dragons had a strange passion for collecting gold and hoarding it for no apparent reason. The gold that dragons hoard is the reward we receive when we stop fighting with life and learn to love ourselves. This is the reward of the hero or heroine’s journey. Before that, the dragon is wild and dangerous and the treasure is inaccessible.

So, the simple answer is to love yourself. The difficult part is to stop not loving yourself. We are incredibly rough on ourselves. We beat ourselves up and criticize ourselves for the smallest, and generally, the most ridiculous of things.

This too, is not coincidental. You have a process or thought structure called the ego whose purpose is to protect you from being vulnerable. It does this by any number of means such as: denying that a problem exists, covering it over so that you don’t have to face it or making you so afraid of it that you won’t venture into it.

When you feel separated from your God-self as you do when you feel unworthy, the ego’s job is to fill the space of perceived separation with compensating thoughts. You either deny the truth, project your feelings out on to others, fabricate another reality, do a power trip, seduce or manipulate, hold the world out with rage or any one of a thousand other schemes. Another basic approach is for you to denigrate yourself so that you will not venture out of the closet.

As you come closer to living from your God-self, the ego’s task is diminished because there is less perceived separation to compensate for. The world does not change, you do.

You can spend the rest of your life in therapy trying to rationally understand why you act as you do, and this can be useful, but there is a much easier way. It is called following The Universal Rule. Simply begin to LOVE EVERYTHING – especially yourself. I know that this seems simplistic, but if you will make a realistic effort to adopt the Universal Rule, even if you don’t fully believe it, I can assure you that things will begin to change.

What you are doing by accepting the Universal Rule is short-circuiting the need for the ego. Even if you don’t fully believe in loving everything, if you simply would try to live your life this way, the ego’s defenses don’t come out, and life becomes much easier. Making a conscious effort to live this way is self-reinforcing and makes it easier for you to go even further. Besides, holding a loving space is what we all want to do naturally, but we are afraid to do it. This gives you permission to be more of our natural self.

I know that it’s not easy to do, especially with the way we have been raised, but if you adopt the Universal Rule as a life philosophy and try and practice it faithfully, your ego will have far less reason to come into play.

So stop whatever you are doing at this moment and open your heart to the people and things around you and in your life. Just close your eyes and breathe, and feel your love for them. You may be ticked off at somebody but love them anyway. You don’t have to like what they do, but love them for who they are. You can be angry at your husband or your kids and still love them with all your heart. When you do this, notice what happens to you – you feel better! If you will take 15 seconds do this 127 times a day with earnest sincerity, your life will change. I guarantee it.

When you stub your toe or run into a situation where you get stuck in your emotions, then use the shamanic journey process to resolve what is confronting you. If you are a bit further along on the spiritual path, try Tangible Truth. It is an incredibly powerful process. Your life will change. I have seen it far too many times with my clients and with workshop attendees for it to be otherwise. It takes courage and the intention to do it, but it does work. And you might as well do it now, because you are going to go there anyway. Remember, that is why we are here in the first place, so you can do it now or do it later, but it’s much easier if you make the choice. Oh, and by the way, you’ll be able to meditate then too.

“An’ if nobody loves you,
an` you’re feelin’ like dust on an empty shelf,
just remember,
you can love yourself.”

Keb Mo,
“You Can Love Yourself.”

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