Instructions on how to meditate are not complicated; they are actually quite basic. However, what is complicated is all the excuses and stories the brain makes up about why it feels so hard to excel at this skill. Meditation is something that can be done anytime, anywhere, with no special equipment needed. It's access is so available. Releasing obstacles to meditation gives you permission to begin or re-engage with this amazing tool.
Obstacle #1. I don’t feel like I’m doing anything
Meditation is a tool to strengthen the brain in areas of memory, learning and decision making. It can help return and grow the zone of resilience by creating new neural pathways in the brain and grow/change gray matter. During meditation you might not feel anything but its effects will be noticed when you are not practicing. You might first start to notice effects in areas of response methods, anxiety, depression or pain. You are learning how to have more control over your mind/body relaxation response thus transforming your relationship with negative stress.
Obstacle #2. I can’t clear my mind
Good then you are still alive! The average person has over 60,000 thoughts a day and they do not go away during meditation. What meditation can do is help manage thoughts, increase the silence between thoughts, and to be a witness to thoughts. If meditating for even just a couple minutes feels too uncomfortable then moving first can sometimes help. Gentle movement such as walking or yoga can prepare the body to sit in meditation and are helpful strategies when the mind seems like it is on overdrive.
Obstacle #3. I can’t be consistent
Creating new habits can be difficult. There are a few proven tricks that can make consistency easier. Attach the time to meditate to a habit that you already do daily such as brushing your teeth or having a morning cup of tea or coffee. Set a trigger to remind yourself such as an alarm or a note on your bathroom mirror. Briefly reflect how you feel following mediation as well. Especially take in the moments when you feel relaxed, calm, or good. Remind yourself that the meditation practice helps you relax. When you feel good following an activity, the brain will more likely want to come back to it.
Obstacle #4. I don’t think I’m doing it right
Most people have an idea of what they think meditation needs to look and feel like based on pop-culture. Forget what you think you know. Start with these easy steps: 1) get comfortable (whatever that means to you), choose a focus of concentration (such as the breath or a mantra), when you notice body sensations, thoughts, or feelings, redirect your attention back to your focus. Each time you redirect your attention you are building mindful muscles in the brain. That’s it to start!
Obstacle #5. A sport is my meditation
It might be! Meditation is generally the act of being both focused and aware. Exercise generally feels good because it does release endorphins and other hormones. Notice where your thoughts go when you are exercising. Are you running but still thinking about work and your to-do list? Then that is not meditation. Are you in the zone and hyper aware? Then you might be in a flow state. Some meditation practices can actually help get you reach peak performance and give your best even when you don’t feel like 100%.
Obstacle #6. I don’t have time
Meditation does not need to take long. It can be done in a few pauses throughout the day. Studies have shown even 1 minute of meditation daily can begin to have positive impacts on the brain and body. Ideally working up to 20 minutes or more a day can lead to decreased anxiety, depression, and pain. As a beginner consistency over length of time is more critical to building a daily habit. Take a critical look at your calendar- can you spare a few minutes when you wake up, during lunch, before walking in the door from work, or before falling asleep? Schedule in the time to practice and make it non-negotiable.
Refer back to these obstacles anytime you notice you are questioning the process. The biggest benefit of the practice is going to happen outside of meditation. Look out for the signs of: being able to respond instead of react, more easily avoid drama, feeling calmer amidst adversity, decreased feelings of anxiety or depression, more creativity, reduced brain fog, or the ability to make better decisions. When you have felt an 'ah-ha, this is working moment' email me and tell me about it firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you struggled to build a habit of meditation? Mindgen has science-based methods to help you build a meditation practice and find time in your busy schedule for success. Join Mindgen through 1:1 coaching programs or an 8-week virtual program that will give you everything you need for success in meditation and growing resilience responses. https://www.mindgenllc.com/the-evidence-within-lab