Simple doesn’t mean easy

I’ve tried mindfulness meditation for years. With various tools, and varied success. I even tried the Muse brain-reading biofeedback headband. Its promise: “meditation made easy.”

I struggled for a long time. I was improving, but had unrealistic expectations. I expected to close my eyes and quiet my mind. When my mind wouldn’t cooperate, I got frustrated.

I only recently understood that this struggle is the point. The mind will wander. It’s good at that. Our job in mindfulness meditation is to be aware of the wandering. Then to guide the mind back to focus.

So where did my unrealistic expectations come from? I confused simple with easy. Mindfulness meditation sounds simple: focus on your breathing and let other thoughts go. But it isn’t easy.

Confusing simple with easy may cause us a lot of stress. Eating healthy is simple, for example. First, eat more fruits and vegetables. Second, eat less processed food, simple carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats. But it’s not easy in a city with more fast food outlets than grocery stores. So we should expect to struggle.

So when something seems simple, it’s wise to ask whether it’s also easy, rather than assume.

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