There are two primary reasons people often struggle with meditation practice. First, it relates to our natural inclination to prioritize urgent tasks over important ones. Since people usually perceive forming a new habit like meditation as non-urgent, they delay or postpone it indefinitely.
“You sit there bored and restless, wondering why time goes by so slowly, and then after a while, you decide you have more important and/or interesting things to do, such as getting stuff done or watching cats flush toilets on YouTube.” Chade Meng Tan — “Search inside yourself”
Additionally, it is challenging for our rational mind to govern our emotional mind, which is accustomed to operating in familiar ways. This is metaphorically represented by a rider trying to control an elephant.
The second reason pertains to the ambiguity of meditation’s benefits compared to activities like exercising at a gym. After a gym session, we typically experience tangible signs of progress, such as increased strength or endurance. In contrast, the benefits of meditation can be less tangible and vary from day to day. While some days we may feel less stressed and more present, it is not always guaranteed.
“Ambiguity is exhausting to the Rider, because the Rider is tugging on the reins of the Elephant, trying to direct the Elephant down a new path.’ Chip and Dan Heath — “Switch — how to change things when change is hard”
In summary, our tendency to prioritize urgency over importance and the lack of immediate, concrete outcomes in meditation can contribute to difficulties in maintaining a regular practice.