Why it can be hard to meditate.
It is normal to struggle when you start to learn how to meditate. Even if you are an experienced practitioner, there are days when you will fight with your practice. But this is not a reason to give up! There is an easy explanation why it can be so hard to mediate.
Overwhelm and constant mind chatter are symptoms of living in a very busy society. It’s likely you are carrying so much on your shoulders. A to do list that never ends. Dealing with the demands of day-to-day life. Worrying about paying the mortgage, household bills, a stressful and demanding workplace. Family commitments. Let’s not forget the over stimulation and ‘noise’ that comes from your immediate environment, TV, social media, traffic, and noise at home.
All these factors have a meaningful effect on your overall body and mind health, and your ability to relax and concentrate. It’s no surprise that many people who choose to start the practice, find it hard to meditate.
In this article I share how to overcome seven of the most common obstacles in meditation. But first let me explain why we think you need to persevere with your practice.
Why you need meditation.
The purpose of meditation is to develop awareness. Awareness of what is going on around you externally. But importantly these ancient techniques of Meditation and mindfulness develop your inner awareness. It is here where you start to comprehend and re-connect with yourself more.
Scientific research has shown that mindfulness meditation techniques reduce stress, anxiety and help you to cope better in daily life. To improve your health and wellbeing.
Through meditation you build a level of resilience that enables you to be more present, and in control of your emotions. Your resilience to manage the continuous barrage of demands on your workload. Juggling a career, looking after the kids, and managing the home. Dealing with your own personal anxieties around life generally.
I’ve heard meditation described by many people as a valuable time out from the distractions of daily life. Time to be with yourself. Quiet time.
7 common meditation obstacles
Now that we’ve shared with you why you need meditation. Let’s take a look at the seven common obstacles that can get in the way.
1.Finding time to meditate.
Time is such a precious commodity. “I don’t have time to meditate. I’m too busy” The major obstacle for starting a meditation practice, is to find time.
The good news is that it doesn’t matter if you find 5 or 10 minutes a day to practise meditation. The benefits are still huge! The most important thing is to be constant and have regularity in your practice. It’s much better to have a routine to meditate 5 minutes a day than 2 hours once a week.
The first three days are the hardest to get into a routine, then it becomes easier. Promise!
My best advice is to find a time that suits you and can be implemented into your daily routine. During the day and at night can be difficult to find time because you are already caught up in your daily demands.
I recommend mornings. It is the best time to meditate because your body has rested during the night and your mind is clear from all the distractions. This makes it easier to concentrate and focus.
Instead of pressing the snooze button that extra time in the morning or scrolling through your phone on social media before you get out of bed. Choose this time to mediate. Or set your alarm 10 minutes earlier when the house is still quiet.
2. Feeling pain in your body.
It is true, in the beginning during meditation, your physical body can struggle a bit. Therefore, it is so important to know how to find a proper meditation posture.
You don’t have to sit in the floor to meditate. And you certainly don’t have to sit in lotus position! It is equally as effective to sit comfortably in a chair. You can practice laying on the floor, but there is the danger that you will fall asleep.
To avoid an uncomfortable body or some pain, it’s important to prepare your physical body for meditation.
There are some very simple yoga exercises that help. If practised mindfully with awareness, these yogic exercises not only prepare your physical body, but they also prepare your mind by developing attention and concentration.
3. Giving up too soon
Sadly, we live in a society where we want things now. Quicker and faster. You cannot expect to get the results instantaneity. Yes, you will feel calmer and present straight away.
But for long term benefits, like everything you want to achieve in life takes time and effort.
You must be patient. You need to develop a practice, build a foundation. When the practice is developed be regular and diligent. Then, when the seed that you have sowed, has been watered it will give you the fruits!
4. I can’t stop my thoughts.
It is one of the biggest myths in meditation. You don’t need to stop your thoughts and your mind does not need to be blank!
The thinking process can never stop. It is part of the nature of your mind. It’s like trying to stop the wind when you are in the middle of nature!
Maybe in a very high state of meditation people can experience a glimpse of a empty mind. However, the thoughts are still there.
You have to get to know them. Befriend your thoughts, but don’t feed them. Allow thoughts to pass through like clouds. Be the witness. Let them rise and then go away.
Meditation is about developing awareness. To accept whatever manifests. This can be something from your past that is positive or negative. It could be you’re thinking about a future event, personal worries, or fears.
Meditation teaches you to observe your thoughts with equanimity. And when your mind drifts off, you bring it back to the practice. Back to the present moment.
5. I get distracted very easy.
It’s very easy to get distracted during meditation. Anything can distract you, a noise, sounds outside, a conversation, odours, or body sensations.
The five senses are always tuned outwards, through them you interact in everyday activities. Therefore, during meditation, you try to tune your senses inwards. The idea is to disassociate the senses from the external world, and bring them to the internal world.
It’s also very important to allocate a quiet space for meditation. A place where you cannot be easily distracted. A peaceful place, that has everything you need to support the practice (pillow, blanket), setting up the right temperature, maybe light some incense, in other words create your little temple, your quiet nook.
6. I worry that I’m “not doing it right.”
Your mind can be your worst enemy. It constantly gets in the way. Often doing the opposite of what we want! It’s like a naughty child. It is a very common question to as “Am I doing it right?”
When you learn something new, it’s normal to put pressure on yourself, you want to be doing it right! You’ve invested, so you want to see the results.
The important thing with meditation is to follow the technique that is given to you. You cannot go wrong if you do that. Have the attitude of acceptance of whatever gets on the way, including your thoughts! Be patient. And be consistent with your practice.
7. Having expectations.
Meditation and mindfulness have been scientifically proven to benefit so many aspects of your health and wellbeing. There are hundreds of studies available, that show how these ancient practices provide support in managing and reducing symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and overwhelm.
They provide complementary support in recovery from major health problems like cancer, strokes, and heart disease. Social issues like addiction.
But meditation won’t solve all your problems! The daily challenges in life will always be there, the key is how you deal with them. And this is where meditation helps.
In daily life mindful meditation builds a level of resilience that helps you to face and manage all that life throws at you with more objectivity. You can make decisions from a place of clarity, in a more calm and peaceful manner.
Through regular practice, you become more aware of yourself and how you respond to situations. You have more control of your emotions. You will be more present and focused at work, home and life generally.
As the great Ram Das says….
Be open to whatever experiences come in your meditation. Don’t get fixated on a model of what meditation is supposed to feel like. Set aside judging, being critical, having opinions. Meditation is giving up models and labels.
If you enjoyed reading this blog, you may also like to read:
What does cultivating the witness mean.
Does meditation help with feeling overwhelmed?