Why Can’t I Meditate? is the title of a new book by sangha member Nigel Wellings.
Addressing this perennial question he offers his own experience as a psychotherapist and mindfulness meditation teacher as well as drawing on a wealth of advice from contemporary teachers including Tsoknyi Rinpoche and accounts from new meditators of their struggles and what has helped.
As you’d expect, Nigel identifies and dissects a whole slew of reasons why we find meditating hard, including impatience and excessive expectations, as well as a deep desire not to be mindfully present. Here is a quote from Tsoknyi Rinpoche: “Students understand the meditation, the practice, but they expect their transformation to be very fast. Some have an immediate cognitive understanding, but to transform habitual patterns takes time. So they become impatient and think – I understand but I don’t transform, I think it’s not working.”
This book will be of interest to meditators from all traditions, Buddhist and secular, as well as those who are thinking of starting – or returning to – meditation practice. It is written against a background of the Noble Eight-fold Path and particularly the importance of compassion and loving kindness. It covers different mindfulness practices, what to do about hindrances and obstacles, what is behind our deep resistance to meditating and, on a more optimistic note, the benefits that can be achieved through practice. Nigel’s background as a struggling meditator for over 30 years and also a mindfulness teacher is strongly present as he offers many examples of how we get stuck shared by people who have attended courses led by Philippa Vick and himself.
I particularly liked the ‘Quick-fix Chart for Struggling Meditators’, where those experiencing a crisis on the cushion can quickly look up a range of common problems and their suggested solutions.
The paperback runs to a substantial 324 pages and is available for £11.19 from Wisdom Books