When we first try meditation, it is difficult because it is unfamiliar; to get over the initial hurdle, we need to develop a regular practice. The more you practice, especially if you are sometimes able to practice together with others, the more you’ll find that you are beginning to really enjoy meditating. After a while, you’re going to really want to meditate, and before too long you’ll find you can’t do without meditating.
To begin with it’s like, “Oh I meditated today!”, as if that’s a really special thing, but eventually it will become like, “I haven’t meditated today, no wonder I’m so grumpy.”
This is because we start developing our own sense of centering our awareness and experiencing inner peace. We see for ourselves the deep healing effect it has on our body and our mind, and as a result how much better our relationships are with others. Everything improves when we get a bit of control over our mind, when our mind starts to get a bit peaceful.
But meditation is quite difficult to begin with. Which, when you think about it, is a bit puzzling. Why should meditation be difficult? Why should placing our mind upon our breath be difficult? Keeping our mind on our breath, surely that should be simple?! That should be like child’s play. What could be a simpler instruction? The problem, once more, is just a lack of familiarity; if we keep going, it will become easier.
It is like training a dog. We rein the dog in. The dog goes trotting off. We rein him in again. The mind keeps trotting off. Why? Habit. It is just a question of (bad) habit. That is why meditation is difficult. Our untrained puppy-like mind is used to being undisciplined and, when we begin to meditate, there is a sense in which we are beginning to exercise discipline over the mind. We are beginning to direct the mind.
Meditating on the breath is the beginning of learning to direct our mind to gain some concentration and control, and then we can learn to direct our mind in directions that are positive. Our meditations on love, compassion and so on will take us where we want to go and fulfil all our wishes.
Everything in our life hinges upon the mind. What we see is that, as we begin to gain control over our mind, we begin to gain control over our life. If we can transform our mind from negative to positive, we can and will transform our life.