A Resolve to Fail


Some people say they have tried meditation, but it didn’t work. Or they are certain meditation could help them, but their minds just won’t cooperate. It’s the kind of practice that sounds so simple in principle, but don’t be fooled. This is one of the hardest journeys you’ll undertake. The stumbling blocks can be roughly divided into a few main categories:

Poor Training. There are many effective ways of performing meditation and they are easy to learn. The internet can provide articles, instructions, podcasts, videos, books, you name it. The problem is that beginning practitioners of meditation often only grasp a vague understanding of the practice while attempting it. They sit down and try to “clear all thoughts” or “watch their breath” because that’s all that they think it is. This is almost a lack of curiosity — like you’ve taken your first few swings with a golf club and decided to give up rather than ask someone if you’re supposed to be bending your knees (you are).  The easiest way, like in golf, is to find a mentor — maybe the friend you know who meditates and seems to have had some success. Or attend a local class, which are surprisingly plentiful and often cheap or free. Those of us who meditate love to talk about it and are dying to offer advice.

Mismanaged Expectations. This is going to take time. You will feel frustration. Results may not be immediate. Some days, not just at the beginning, thoughts will distract your mind and emotions will overwhelm your senses. The meditator needs to understand that progress is slow and steady. The most counter-intuitive part of meditation is that failure is the point. Think of weightlifting, where the goal is to lift heavy objects until the muscles fail (can’t lift it anymore). No bodybuilder drives home from the gym thinking, “My muscles failed today on that last rep — weightlifting is too hard!”   There is no need for guilt or shame at any point, only awareness and love. If you can maintain your attentiveness for twenty seconds, try for thirty next time. We are getting to know ourselves just as we are. Some days will go better than others and there will be setbacks. You can do it.

Cowardice. There is a certain amount of courage required to sit quietly with yourself. As a normal human being, there are traits of yours that you hate and secrets that you don’t like to admit. There are thoughts and feelings that scare the shit out of you. The reflex is to run. When you first attempt to quiet your mind, you may feel discomfort of one sort or another. Is this not what we are here to examine? The temptation to avoid meditation is strong and manifests in plenty of sinister disguises. Many people will find clever ways to avoid authenticity until the end of their lives, usually to their great regret. Make no mistake, this is a battle for our selves. The real heart of meditation is this — the resolve to sit in that chair today and accept gracefully whatever comes up.

Lack of Time or Interest. See cowardice.


Nowhere else


There are two basic problems when it comes to spirituality, and people usually have at least one of them. Some of us have trouble being here, and others have trouble being now.

Being here means connecting with the physical world around you. Getting out of your head and quieting the daydreaming mind. Seeing through the stories about the way things are and noticing it yourself. It’s about awareness. Awakeness.

Being now means enjoying and accepting the present moment, as is. Recognizing the difference between a goal and a necessity. Release of petty concerns and a liberating lack of needs. Contentedness.

One is no easier to achieve than the other. The journey to either of these states is measured in months and more likely years. Many of us will tackle both of these problems at once, others not at all. Your mileage may vary.

I find that meditation helps to keep me connected to both the here and the now. While on my meditation rug, I remember that the story I’ve created about how I’m such a burden on my friends is hogwash and that I don’t need to tell it to myself anymore. When I set aside time in my day to just sit still, I think of my wife or my cats or my home and realize again that my life circumstances are amazing and I don’t need anything else to be happy. Daily meditation has a specific place and a specific time in my life so it naturally checks both boxes.

It is difficult and demanding to begin or deepen a meditation practice, but its fruits are focus and harmony. Happiness can only be found here and now.



You feel stuck. You’re hurting. There’s a disconnectedness about you that you swear wasn’t always there.

You’re boxed in. Everything feels so fragile, like it could all come crashing down at any moment. Sometimes you dream about it falling. Better to fail and move on then tread water like this forever. And then you have a familiar thought: “What if this is all life is?”

Terror. Panic. Anger. Guilt.

Moods pass; all storms do. But it’s been stormy around you lately. Everything seems to require so much effort- there was a time when this all came so effortlessly. There are habits that you find surprisingly difficult to break, even if you’re honest enough to admit them. When did everything get so hard?

And then one day it gets better and it stays better. Promise.



Living in enlightenment means letting go of lies. Anyone can try it out by naming one little lie you tell yourself, examining it, and passing judgement on it. Silly. Untrue. Dangerous. Ejecting one lie from your thoughts and life will ease discomforts and make room for joy. Just kick it out the door once and for all. You don’t need to tell that story anymore; there’s an older, better one. It’s the story of You.

If that felt good, keep going. Become a lie hunter, sniffing out all those little untruths we’ve forgotten we’re even telling. People don’t find me attractive. I’m a burden on my friends. I don’t try hard enough. Throw them out. They aren’t true and people are getting bored hearing them anyway.

After a while you’ll be really digging this new lie-free story you’re telling and wondering what happens next. Start tackling some bigger ones. I’m a disappointment to my mother. I’m not as important as my coworker. I am probably going to screw this up. You know what they are. Grab them and pull them out by the roots to uncover your true story. Your beautiful, important story.

Be patient. This task will take a lifetime, if done properly. So take your time and do it right. Whenever an unproductive mood shows up for a visit, try to name the lie that accompanies it. Sometimes you will be able to brush it off with ease, sometimes you’ll need to shake like hell. The enlightening part is to see what stories stick around longest and which hold on the hardest.

Settling for scraps


When meditating, stray thoughts are like stray cats. A pack of them will wander up to your mind’s doorstep and mewl for attention. There you are, dutifully focused on your breathing and then

I wonder if this will help with my memory

a thought out of left field will insert itself directly onto the blank canvas of your attention. At first you will dismiss it easily because you’re still having fun and excited about telling your friends that you began a meditation routine. Besides,

Joey could never concentrate enough to do this

they say that regular meditation leads to a host of useful benefits like improved focus and the ability

That clock is pretty loud

to work under stress. So you shoo away the random visitors and get yourself back to a place of calm. You are a zen warrior, breathing in and breathing out without so much as a dent in your mental armor. As you settle into your relaxation, the cats get hungrier and more insistent. They can sense halfhearted resolve and they gather for a group attack. You swat them down, one

Might rain tomorrow

by one

That checkout girl was a bitch

as soon as they appear but to no avail. Now that you’ve shown that you can be riled there is no stopping them

I can stop them

Damn it

even if you run at them waving a broomstick and yelling “scat!”

The whole process is infuriating to be sure. Practice brings steady improvement and repeated failure is the only way to build that muscle. The trick is to find your own breath infinitely more interesting than any idea that stalks around outside, vying for your attention. You are here and you are alive, doing the most important thing you can do: being you. There will be distractions

I miss my family

but the ripples in the pool only get in the way of the beautiful reflection staring back at you. Don’t follow the ripples and don’t feed the strays.

Sacred space


Each room in your house has a purpose. It is a sacred space that supports an essential function in your life. The living room is for spending time with loved ones. The kitchen is for nourishing your body. The bedroom is for relaxation and intimacy. Honor the role of each room and your life will be filled with prosperity and joy.

This is your kingdom and you alone are responsible for its well-being. Schedule time in your day to pay attention to the room that needs it most. Don’t hurry through it- this is a sacramental task and this space that exists to serve you deserves your reverence. Put away clutter, rearrange furniture, clear channels for energies to flow. Remove anything that does not belong. Every item has a place and wants to rest in it.

Give something away that no longer belongs and make note of what is missing. Do something to bring in more beauty. Continue to improve your home so that your life does not stagnate.

As you clean the surfaces and scrub away the dust and dirt of neglect, feel the purpose of the room being restored. Notice how much you love spending time here. Hear the spirit of your space singing with joy as balance is renewed, every item and surface harmonizing to support your life’s purpose.

Step one


Meditation, step one.

Relax. Everything is going to be okay. Everything already is okay. You are right where you should be. There is nothing that could happen- nothing at all- that could disrupt the truth that your life is exactly on track. You might not be able to see this immediately, but trust me. You’re good. Just relax.

Sit in a chair and relax. Drive to work and relax. Whatever it is you’re doing, day after day, don’t let yourself become removed from your calm. The center of your being is peace and repose, everything else is a lie. Unclench your jaw, release the tension in your back and shoulders. Everyone you know may be filled with stress: You are calm and relaxed. Try to remember.

Start in a safe place; a quiet room in your house or a familiar prayer chapel or halfway through a Star Wars marathon. Wherever you can find true, deep relaxation and put down your worries for a few moments. When your breathing slows down and you find a half smile on your lips, you’re there. Enjoy that feeling of being alive and present and serene. This is who you are.

Carry that feeling with you. Remember it. Go back to it as often as possible. We’ll deal with all of the things that set you off, that shatter your calm and leave you feeling angry and alone and frustrated. But for now, for this one moment, set all of those disturbances aside and come back to yourself. Wherever you are, whomever you are with, whatever is happening around you. Just relax and be.

Repeat step one.