Does Meditation Ever Get Easier?
Beginners often want to know if meditation gets any easier, and the answer is yes … and no. It doesn’t get easier in the way that we would think it should. But as we get more experienced, it allows us to reap more of the benefits, even if there’s discomfort associated.
When we sit down and meditate, often what’s happening in working with our minds and consciousness is that a lot of stuff coming up is gunk and layers of what obscures our true nature.
I don’t like equating meditation to therapy, but it does make for a helpful analogy in this case. Think of it this way: If you work with a therapist for a long time, stuff will likely start to come to the surface more and more as you build that relationship and move deeper into using different methodologies. Meditation practice is like that, too. It’s relational; we call it purification in the Buddhist tradition. What it means is that aspects of mind and emotion that are stuck and confused that aren’t part of our original nature come to the surface. That can be incredibly challenging.
Finding Who We Really Are
For me, practice has brought up all these parts of me that I thought were me that weren’t, but I had to go through the process to see that — I had to see what it was as it was. That can be disorienting! We don’t want to see a lot of that because we always want bliss and happy feelings, but in my experience, genuine meditation practice actually doesn’t feel good all the time because it’s trying to lead us to a place that’s much deeper and more sustainable than just feeling good — you can say, in a way, it feels the best because it’s going deeper and bringing us to our original nature, what we call our buddha nature in the Buddhist tradition.
Here’s an example: I’ve had a lot of anxious thoughts my whole life. Through meditation, I slowly realized what I thought was ingrained anxious thoughts was confusion in interacting with my biology — my nervous system and brain, along with the way my mind functioned and my thoughts were happening. It’s all integrated, and teasing that out is uncomfortable. Initially what happened is I got more key up when I had those thoughts, not because I wanted to, but because I was seeing it. That’s often how it is. If we’re an angry person, we will see more anger, and then it’s uncomfortable because we’re seeing reality — sort of. But then we start to shed those relationships and we discover, “Oh, that’s not something I have to hang on onto” or “That’s not the way I have to function anymore.”
For me, meditation is there to help facilitate a shift into what reality actually is, and so if we’re using meditation to stack on new layers of fake reality, I don’t know if that’s necessarily what it was intended for. But if we use it to understand what is reality — and reality is sometimes really painful — that is incredibly useful. Part of the experience for me has been understanding that pain and discomfort are not something I have to ignore or try to turn away from; they’re a natural part of life, and meditation and Buddhism specifically have given me the tools to feel confident in facing that consistently.
So even though it’s not easy and doesn’t necessarily get easier, you get more confidence to face the discomfort of reality because you see there really is no other way. We can’t will it away; we can’t buy it away — it’s simply an inevitable part of life.
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