Why meditate? This is a question I have been asked many times. I still even ask myself every once and again when I need reminding as to why I am on this path. The truth is, only you can answer the question. So, how do you know if meditation is right for you? Of course, I am biased, but I believe that anyone can benefit from the practice of meditation. Let's start by dispelling a few myths about meditation:
"I can't quiet my mind enough to do meditation" - There is good news. You don't have to quiet your mind to do meditation. In fact, the quiet mind often associated with meditation is the product of, not the prerequisite for practicing meditation. In fact, the more your mind is going on and on about while you are meditating, the more benefit you may be getting from the practice.
"I try to meditate, but just fall asleep" - Join the club. In our society, we are mostly all at least somewhat sleep deprived. The occasional falling asleep is just part of the deal, and may be exactly what you need at the time. The flip side is that there are strategies you can use to stay awake during meditation, which is key if you are to find longer-term benefit in the practice. Learning the appropriate way to pay attention during meditation may prove sufficient. If not, standing while meditating, practicing moving meditation, or repeating lines and phrases (mantra) may prove helpful in helping you stay awake for the meditation you are trying to do.
"I don't have time" - No one does. Like anything of importance in your life, you will have to carve out time and space to practice. The good news is, that there are a lot of ways to practice meditation. You don't have to go anywhere special or do anything out of the ordinary. In fact, you may not even have to move your body to get started. It is more about the intention and level of awareness you bring to the present moment of your life that makes the difference.
"I like relaxing in other ways" - Awesome. Relaxation is important in life. However, there are two issues with this. 1) Most ways people relax are simply distraction techniques (reading, sleeping, watching tv, exercising, talking with friends, surfing the internet, etc) and are therefore not truly relaxing. 2) Meditation is NOT a relaxation technique. It can be rejuvenating and restful, but is under no requirement to be. Approaching meditation as a way to relax may be why you are falling asleep (see above).
"Meditation is against my religion" - No it isn't. There is no religion that prohibits quietly paying attention to your own life. In fact, most religions utilize introspective focus as part of connecting to higher spiritual power. Many very religious people find that meditation deepens their own faith and connection to higher power rather than detracting from it.
It may be that the better question to ask yourself is "why am I NOT meditating?" The answer may shed great light on many things. Your resistance to the practice may reflect similar resistance you have to other things in your life. In fact, if you're feeling resistance to these words, or the idea of practicing meditation, close your eyes, take a deep breath, feel the resistance in your body, and ask silently, "Why?" Then simply listen for an answer. It may come or it may not. The point is, you are paying attention.
Many times, what is happening in our lives is simply a reflection of what is already going on inside of our heads. By learning to pay attention to your body and mind, and to understand the way it moves moment to moment, many aspects of your life will come into better focus. With this focus comes insight. With insight comes clarity. With clarity comes wisdom. With wisdom comes peace. Find it for yourself. Give it a try. There is nothing to lose, and quite possibly everything to gain. That is all for now... Thank you.