Meditation is hard!
I went to my first meditation class at the age of 15. The Great Guru teaching the class said: “Meditation is simple. You just have to still your mind.”
“Still your mind???!!!,” I exclaimed inside my head, “What has that guy been smoking?”
It’s been close to fifty years and I’m no closer to stilling my mind than I was at 15.
I’m not alone. I train thousands of people each year in stress reduction techniques. I’ll ask a class: “Who here has taken a meditation course or read a book on how to meditate?”
Everyone raises their hand. Then I ask: “Who here has a daily meditation practice?”
Everyone looks at the floor and studies the patterns of grain in the wood.
If it’s so good for you, why is meditation so hard to do, and why do most people fail at it? A study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine looked at patients who needed to relax for their health, and found that after 2 years, 54% had dropped out (Delmonte, 1988).
One factor is resistance. Many people find it hard to sit still, and the more quiet we get, the more we become aware of mental chatter and physical irritations. That scratchy nose—not too much of a problem when we’re distracted by everyday life—fills the whole screen of our consciousness when we sit still.
Longtime meditation teachers Charles and Carol Crenshaw now report success combining meditation with EFT or Emotional Freedom Techniques. Described by Examiner.com as: “one of the most successful psychology self-help techniques ever developed,” EFT combines advanced psychology techniques with tapping on acupuncture points.
The Crenshaws, a husband and wife team, describe the ability to remain calm in the face of distressing life experiences as one of the foundations of meditation. In their book EFT for Meditation they show that EFT can quickly release stress, allowing meditators to deepen their practices (Crenshaw & Crenshaw, 2017). Over 100 scientific studies have shown that EFT is effective for many physical and psychological challenges, including anxiety, depression and PTSD (Church et al., 2014).
Like me, the Crenshaws have found that students of theirs who attempt to establish a meditation practice face many obstacles to calming the mind and relaxing the body. EFT can help clear those obstacles by releasing doubts, fears, and emotional disturbances, enabling the meditator to gain the full body-mind-spirit benefits of meditation. Likewise, meditation facilitates the EFT process by bringing the contents of the unconscious to the surface, exposing the limiting beliefs and disturbing memories that hinder people from living their full potential. Identifying such obstacles is integral to EFT, and meditation can speed the process.
The authors begin the book with an exercise designed to provide the reader with a “quick start” experience of how EFT and meditation can be combined. They review the research on meditation, and explain in detail how it changes the activity of the nervous system (Tang et al., 2009). This in turn affects the respiratory and circulatory systems, producing widespread regulation throughout the body. While emphasizing the science, the book shows how meditation has its roots in mystical experience, and how we can deepen our spirituality through regular practice.
EFT for Meditation acknowledges the difficulty most people have in establishing a consistent meditation practice. It shows how to use EFT to overcome resistance, and how to tailor a practice to one’s unique life circumstances. It outlines the most popular meditation methods and the role EFT plays in each one. There are thousands of studies showing the healing benefits of meditation and EFT when practiced alone (Goyal et al., 2014). Combining both can produce a powerfully transformative effect, and get even reluctant meditators like me on the road to a consistent practice.
Church, D., Feinstein, D., Palmer-Hoffman, J., Stein, P. K., & Tranguch, A. (2014). Empirically supported psychological treatments: the challenge of evaluating clinical innovations. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 202(10), 699-709.
Delmonte, M. M. (1988). Personality correlates of meditation practice frequency and dropout in an outpatient population. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 11(6), 593-597.
Goyal, M., Singh, S., Sibinga, E. M., Gould, N. F., Rowland-Seymour, A., Sharma, R., ... & Ranasinghe, P. D. (2014). Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Internal Medicine, 174(3), 357-368.
Tang, Y. Y., Ma, Y., Fan, Y., Feng, H., Wang, J., Feng, S., ... & Zhang, Y. (2009). Central and autonomic nervous system interaction is altered by short-term meditation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(22), 8865-8870.