Meditation is highly effective, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Well, it can be easy, it’s just not always what people expect it to be.
Beginners have all sorts of challenges when meditating, but most of them aren’t really problems. Some of the obstacles are simply part of the meditation process.
Meditation can work for everyone.
Challenges that might hold you back in "traditional" meditation:
1. Your mind is too active.
It is completely normal for your mind to be active. It takes practice before thoughts stop racing and the mind quiets down, and it’s rarely silent - even after years of practice.
It takes about 20 minutes for experienced meditators to notice a slowing down of the mind.
Part of the purpose of meditating is to learn how your mind operates. This is how it operates.
Simply return your focus to your breath when you find you can't turn off the mind-chatter.
2. Your mind wanders.
It’s not uncommon to suddenly realize that you’ve been daydreaming for the last five minutes. The solution is the same as the previous issue. Just return your attention to your breath and continue.
3. A lack of consistency.
Meditation is a great tool, but to see the greatest benefits and to gain a high level of proficiency it should be done daily. You can’t become skilled at what you don’t practice. Get as much practice as you can.
4. You fall asleep.
It’s okay if you fall asleep. Many use meditation at night if they're anxious and their thoughts keep them from falling asleep easily.
However, if that's not your goal and you're looking for active meditation, it should be impossible to stay asleep if you have the proper posture. The best position for meditating is to sit up straight. If you lie down, you may struggle to stay awake.
5. Body pains.
Holding one position can be painful, especially when you’re just starting out with meditation.
Try to just observe the discomfort and over time, your aches and pains will largely go away. Itches fall into the same category - try to leave them alone. You might start by laying on the floor rather than sitting if the discomfort is overwhelming.
Yes, meditation can be boring, especially if you’re used to significantly more stimulation. Learn to sit still with your boredom and just observe it. Boredom can be more fascinating than you might think.
7. Your thoughts keep turning to quitting.
Common thoughts include things like, “This is a waste of time.” “Why am I doing this?” “Is this all there is?” Again, just sit with your thoughts and notice them. Realize that it’s your discomfort with the stillness that’s bothering you. You’ll come to understand that many of the things you do in your life are to avoid this feeling. This includes things like staring at the TV, scrolling through social media, and overeating.
8. Finding time.
We make time for what is important to us. If you had time to watch TV, surf the internet, or play on your phone, you had time to meditate.
9. Desiring perfection.
Perfection in meditation isn’t achievable, but you don’t need to be perfect. Put in the time with your best effort. That’s all that’s required.
10. Expecting more.
Meditation rarely involves earth-shattering insights. It’s a gradual process that brings understanding over time.
The challenges above aren’t really problems. They’re simply misunderstandings of what normally occurs during a meditation session. Keep at it and have faith that everything is as it should be.
If traditional meditation still isn't for you, check out my blog for alternative meditation and mindful practices.