What’s Stopping You From Meditating?
We all know (or at the very least suspect) the amazing benefits of meditation. Sadly, most of us do not practice regularly. Sometimes it feels like there are a ton of obstacles to overcome. My favorite excuse is that I cannot find any alone time with a very clingy four-year-old in the house pulling the apron strings every one and a half minutes, and her needs supersede mine. My next favorite excuse is I’ve been running all day and finishing out a huge “to-do” list and I’m not in the right frame of mind and feel like I can’t shift gears. I know, I know…this one is total bologna. Logically I know through meditation I can experience more peace and joy in my life. I can become less reactive, less stressed, and I can have more energy and more creativity. I can help my body heal faster and I can simplify my thinking and increase my focus on what’s important in life. So, why on earth would I want to give up all these amazing benefits? So, why don’t we just do it?
First, I think a lot of people feel like meditation is a big deal like being asked to perform open heart surgery. There are many different styles of meditation and we hear stories all the time about gurus who spend three days straight in deep meditation. We all know someone who went on a magical meditation retreat and sat in the woods for the weekend communing with nature. We don’t all have time or money or life situations for these sorts of deep explorations.
In the beginning, my biggest hurdle conquered was believing meditation is the absence of thought, or kind of forcing your mind to get rid of thoughts or go blank. My mind is usually a dizzying swirl of thousands of thoughts all vying for my attention. I’m usually working on five or ten different subjects of thought at any given time. My ego does not like it when I consider slowing it down for a while. In truth, meditation is not forcing anything, least of all your thoughts. When a thought comes into focus, observe it instead of reacting to it. Recognize it for what it is… something imagined, generated from your ego programming, and then let it float away. I like to picture them floating in an ocean or in a gas cloud or as different size bubbles floating on a soft breeze. The last one is great because you can imagine popping them after you acknowledge them.
One of the biggest excuses people use is the time thing. A lot of people convince themselves that they need to retreat into meditation for an hour or two for it to be effective. Nothing could be further from the truth. Calming and centering yourself can generate benefits in as little as five or ten minutes (especially with a Soundshift tool!) How long does it take to sit and watch a beautiful sunset? How amazing does that make you feel? It draws you into the present moment for just a few moments and gives you a sense of aliveness and presence. That’s all meditation is and that’s all the time it takes. If you are really struggling with time, you can even incorporate meditation into something you already do every day. How about while you are out walking the dog? How about while you are eating? How about in the shower? These times are great for staying in the present and observing thoughts without reacting to them.
It’s true, meditation takes some discipline. But, think about it. So does everything else in your life that you really care about. I take chunks of time daily for all the things I find necessary to my health and wellbeing. I go to the gym, have a family dinner where all are present, write articles, journal, and work on other writings, walk my dogs, play with my kid, and go to work, among other things. If I can find the time to take care of my body, family, and home every day, why shouldn’t I meditate? You can find the discipline you need in a variety of ways. First, think of something you can do to hold yourself accountable. You can find a meditation partner, tell people you are starting a disciplined practice and ask them to keep tabs on your goals, or join a meditation group. Be creative. Meditate on it.
As far as distractions go, each individual has to learn to deal with them in their own way. I like to treat distractions like I treat thoughts. I know they will come, and I simply recognize them, and let them pass. If it is something impossible to move past, like my little one asking for more juice, I get more juice and return to my inner journey. Again, Soundshift tools (check out the tools here!) really help me pick up right where I left off.
Regardless of what your excuses are, just be aware that chances are very good they’ve been used before and have been successfully overcome by others in similar situations. It’s all about how bad you want it in your life and how willing you are to incorporate it. There are no excuses that can’t be resolved. They are just thoughts after all, and we all know what to do with them, right?