Meditation Sucks. P.S. It Also Works via Jody Greene
People occasionally tell me how much they love to meditate. I tend to think either they’re lying or they’re jerks. Or maybe lying jerks. Or, if that seems a little too harsh, maybe they’re just not human. See, I’ve been meditating daily, sometimes once a day and sometimes up to 12 hours a day, for a little over a decade. In addition to sitting every morning, I’ve endured around a dozen seven- and nine-day silent retreats and lived for 90 days as a zen monastic. This meditation thing—it’s gone a little beyond the hobby stage.
And I’m here to testify: I haven’t loved every minute of it. Well, actually, I haven’t actually loved any minute of it. Oops. Sorry.
On a scale of euphoric to psychotic my experience of meditation has ranged from intermittently boring to 5th circle of hell. For years my legs fell asleep and my knees screamed and my back ached. But that was just the training wheels, and when the bodily discomfort subsided, things kinda got worse. Other people may have “monkey mind” but I seem to have an entire troupe, colony, sub-civilization of inebriated primates screaming and swinging and exposing themselves in my head. My mind chatter isn’t just chatter—it’s a professional monkey marching band.
And yet I keep going back. Which is odd. What’s even odder is that I teach other people to meditate, people I like and care about and innocent people I’ve never met. I go out and give step-by-step instructions and preach the virtues of committing to a lifetime practice of something I pretty much hate. OK—I said it. There it is. I kind of hate meditating.
Yeah, so why on earth do I persist in practicing (let alone preaching) this meditation thing? The short answer is, because, dammit, it works. Meditation sucks … and it works. Yup, it really has transformed my living, my capacity for presence, my relationships, my reactivity, my despair and depression, my capacity for wonder and love and openness. All that stuff they said it would do: done or doing. But here’s the part they forgot to mention: You can suck at meditation—you can even kinda sorta hate meditation—and still reap the benefits. Take it from me.