There are all these stages to meditation. In the beginning there’s this huge challenge of just being able to keep your body still, there’s this huge challenge of putting your mind on one thing. And this isn’t even meditating, it’s literally just being still and concentrating. That’s a big challenge for us because there’s not much happening in our world that teaches us how to be still and how to concentrate or to keep the mind sustained, focused on one thing, right? It’s like we’re asking you to develop things in time, that’s why we try to keep it short, it’s not hours long. But the light at the end of the tunnel is that let’s say you try to meditate and you’re just distracted by all the things you can feel in your body and your body is really uncomfortable or it might be mental stuff that’s coming up (memories, worries about the future or the past, something you thought you were going to do today and as soon as you quiet down you remember that you didn’t do it, that kind of stuff) and all those things come in and these are all meant to make us stronger.
And the thing is that you won’t really embrace meditation, you won’t really develop the ability to meditate until you’re really motivated. Usually that means something’s happening, like literally, you’re losing your sight or your hearing or you’ve had a big medical diagnosis or your favorite friend or animal or companion is leaving or dying and all these big things are happening and people are like “Oh, my God what am I going to do? TV isn’t going to do it, beer and wine aren’t going to do it, money isn’t going to do it”. Usually that’s when people start looking at meditating. When you’re desperate, when you’re focused, when you’re really motivated, then you’ll have what it takes sooner or later. It’ll be like my neck and my back are killing me, but I got to do this thing, I need it for some reason. Maybe it’s to lower my blood pressure or maybe it’s because I want to know if God is real. Same thing. And what happens is that if you stick with it, you develop your ability to concentrate and you can go beyond the pain. You can concentrate and hold your mind, direct it inward or direct it toward God and you can be eventually free, at least in those moments, of the emotional things, the mental things and the physical things.
When I came to meditation I was kicking and screaming, I was never interested in meditation. I never considered myself to be a spiritual person or any of that, but I had a lot of anger and anxiety and I had problems because I was acting on those thing. And I was pretty much forced to learn how to control those things and part of the program I was in was learning how to meditate. So I was like in a court ordered anger management situation and part of that experience and the counseling I was going through led me into yoga and meditation. When I first sat to meditate my neck went out and I had been told that I have bulging disc, degenerative disc disease. Doing physical work, carrying heavy things my whole life, doing it all the wrong way – all these were the reasons that doctors were telling me that my knees were bad, my low back was bad, my neck was going to have surgery any minute. I was having all this pain, I was taking drugs for the pain. I couldn’t drive anywhere. When I got out of my car my truck I could barely get out because my body took the shape of the chair and I could barely walk to get my tape measure. I look like a cripple and I was like thirty nine, forty years old. I spent days on my back on Vicodin and all this kind of stuff. And the Western doctors had nothing for me except for looming surgeries and all the different kinds of surgeries I was going to have. But the same time I was so mentally out of sorts that I started doing yoga and meditation.