These days, everyone’s talking about the reasons to practice mindfulness. What about the reasons that make meditating a bad idea? Below, from my own experience, are 10 reasons NOT to practice sitting meditation:
1. You Can’t Afford To. You’ve been too moving fast, working too hard, talking, texting, worrying. You’ve even “lost it” a few times. (not pretty!) Slow down now and that stuff will catch up with you.
2. Later Is Big, Now Is Small. Meditation is in the moment. But you’ve got your whole life ahead of you. The moment is a squeeze play. It’s only now–which never ends. Why downsize? Think bigger. There’s no time for now.
3. The Best For Last. Meditation is about waking up the best in you. One day, the world will require your best, but today? Look around. Why waste your gifts on what isn’t working? You can do better.
4. You’re Smarter Than That. To sit and meditate you’ve got to believe. In something—or nothing—you just have to care. Caring is hard work. It’s overrated. It’s commitment. Don’t tie yourself down. Work smart, not hard.
5. It’s Not Cool Anymore. Meditation practice is like breathing, everyone’s doing it. Even doctors recommend making time for contemplation. Sure, it’s a human thing, but let’s face it, you’ve never been a joiner.
6. It Doesn’t Pay. When dinner’s made, you eat. When work’s done, you get paid. When you travel, you get a T-shirt. When you play the lottery, you can win. When you meditate, you breathe and…be? Where is the payoff in that?
7. TV. Walking Dead, Downton, Louis CK, Nashville (for the music), Cosmos (for thinking). TV has never been better. Who wants to sit through your show? The main character’s a mystery. Talk about zombies! Where’s the development? That pilot’s headed for cancellation. Fire the writer!
8. Meditation Is Lonely. You might be sitting in a group at a meditation center, but meditate and you’re pretty much on your own. Breathing, thinking, feeling, being (what is that?). Are there even words for this stuff? Sure, everyone alive goes through it. Why should you?
9. You Can’t ‘Work It’. History can be rewritten. The future can be imagined. The present? What’s the angle? Who controls the narrative? Do you want to leave your story to someone you don’t know?
10. Multi-Tasking. We all have to be somewhere. Who says the mind needs to be there too? How is that freedom? Besides, you have other things to think about—like your blog post and your sitting practice. Where’s the mind if it’s not about to be somewhere else?
Author’s Note: Sure, sometimes formal sitting meditation isn’t practical. But other times we just aren’t in the mood. We have a reason for the things we do. Sometimes our “reasons” aren’t reasonable. As my teacher Sakyong Mipham points out, whether we sit or not, our mind is always holding on to something. That makes us all meditators. How can we pretend not to care who we are? Have you hugged your mind today?