How to Overcome the Most Common Meditation Obstacles
By James Allen
Ever feel like the moment you decide to do something good, some cosmic twist of fate throws obstacles in your way? You decide to go on a diet—the very same day that your friends want to come over for pizza and beer. You decide to run every day, but then it rains all week. Starting a new meditation habit is no different. Here are some of the most common roadblocks that people face—and what to do about them.
1. A Chronic Lack of Time
Easily the largest of the obstacles is lack of time. There never seems to be enough as it is, much less for sitting around for 20 minutes doing nothing. One way around this is to take advantage of the time you already spend doing nothing, and convert it into meditation. Stuck on the bus for a 30-minute commute? Close your eyes, lay your head back, and focus on nothing but your breathing.
Try multi-tasking. Take a few minutes while you’re in the shower to just shut your mind off, and focus on nothing but the water pouring over you, or perhaps try going to bed 15 or 20 minutes early. Use that extra time to shed the stress of the day, and promote a better night’s sleep.
2. Falling Asleep
Speaking of sleep, some find it difficult to stay awake during meditation. This may or may not be an obstacle, depending on how you look at it. The advice on this varies from person to person, but the decision is ultimately yours. Just consider the following: stress has a way of keeping us so wired that we fail to realize how tired we really are. Some experts claim that if you’re falling asleep, it could mean that you need sleep more than meditation.
Here are two ways to get around this. First, try getting more sleep if possible. Alternatively, try meditating before bed to calm yourself before drifting off. This can be especially useful if your anxious mind keeps you up at night.
Distractions are either internal or external. For external distractions, consider creating a dedicated meditation space that’s quiet and as distraction-free as possible. The idea is to create an atmosphere of peace.
Equally as common are internal distractions. Internal distractions are those thoughts that creep in, courtesy of your busy mind. Really, the best way to cope with these distractions is by diligent practice. At first, it’s easier said than done, but with practice you’ll notice it takes less and less time to clear your head.
4. Expecting Immediate Results
Another common obstacle, especially when weighed against the constant lack of time, is not seeing an immediate improvement. Fix this by adjusting your expectations. It’s true that some results are immediate. A simple 15-minute session can give you immediate stress relief, but many more enduring benefits take time.
5. Boredom or Restlessness
Some people just find it difficult to sit still, especially the go-getters out there. If this describes you, consider a meditation practice like yoga before you sit in mindful silence. This allows you to get the mental benefits of the practice while still being physically engaged.
What are the most common meditation obstacles that you face? What’s the worst one and what do you do to overcome it? Feel free to share them in the comment section below!
James Allen is a research writer and Health, Wellness, and Meditation blogger for Blue Banyan, Australia.
Need help learning mindfulness meditation? Check out Mindfulness Meditation Made Simple: Your Guide to Finding True Inner peace (paperback).
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