Are You An On-Again, Off-Again Meditator?

Morgan Dix
Are You An On-Again, Off-Again Meditator?

Ok, you’ve made this commitment one hundred and one times already in the last few years. It’s always the same. You say to yourself, “This time it’s going to be different. I’m going to meditate every day!"

This is going to help you shed that lingering feeling of guilt from the last time you quit. Now, you feel inspired. You feel moved deep down inside. You know that touching into that quiet part of you every day is going to help with everything that’s dragging you under.

Like an invisibility cloak or a secret talisman of power, this is going to be the answer. This time is different.

Hmmm... sound familiar?

Living in a Culture Of Disruption

See...what if it’s not different this time? What if there were good reasons why you needed to stop last time? Your little one got sick. A family member died. You moved or you changed jobs.

The thing is, with our busy lives, disruption is the norm! There are more tantalizing, teasing, and glittering things vying for our attention all the time.

At the same time, I hear from a lot of people who feel guilty for being an on-again, off-again meditator. Sure, a daily meditation practice is a worthy goal, and no doubt it can help you weather the periodic cyclones that blow your house down.

I maintained a consistent daily practice for two hours a day for 15 years, so I understand the value of consistency. I could sing you a song cycle about the virtues of consistency for hours (thank God that ain’t gonna happen any time soon!).

But the flip side is that I lived in an ashram for all that time in a culture devoted to spiritual practice. It was a very rarefied environment.

Our culture is not that. It pushes in the opposite direction: away from focus, away from silence, away from stillness. By extension, in that context meditation is not just a discipline, it qualifies as an act of defiance against all the prevailing currents of our culture.

Revisiting the Idea of a Daily Practice

So maybe it’s time we revisit the tyranny of the daily practice idea. And the reason I’m raising it is because so many people struggle with it and then just give up on meditation.

Like any valuable habit, repetition is critical. It helps the brain lay down the neural pathways for your new behavior. That’s important because once the brain establishes that groove in the grey matter, it all gets a lot easier.

But if you’re an on-again, off-again meditator, maybe that’s just how you roll. Maybe the daily thing isn’t for you. Maybe a few times a week is more realistic. Think about it for a bit and see how it lands. Either way, here’s the main point (actually there are two points).

Make More Room and Be Kind

First, trust that precious impulse within you that yearns for communion with the depths of your own limitless expanse. Honor that urge. It’s you. It’s real. It’s important.

By tending to it, you’re allowing space for the answers that are already within you to emerge.

Second, be kind to yourself. I know that sounds trite, but what the hell. It’s true. There’s nothing wrong at all with being an on-again, off-again meditator. Maybe it’s like jazz. Sometimes the space between the beats is longer, and the notes more discordant than you think they should be.

And that’s exactly why the magic happens.