Sometimes when I bring up mediation, my clients, friends, or family twist their face like I just said a four-letter word. And I get that, and that’s cool. I’m not here to try to convince folks that everyone needs to partake in meditation. In fact, I’m quite certain that forcing someone to meditate who does not wish to meditate would have the opposite intended effect of meditation. I am here however, to throw out some helpful tips to those who have taken an interest in meditation and may have some pressing thoughts, concerns, or questions about their practice. So below I have listed a few common bits that come up for a lot of people when they set out on their meditation journey:
1) Why does this feel so difficult, other people make meditation look easy:
I assure you that for the most part meditation is difficult for everyone who partakes. In meditation we go inward in an attempt to come to some sort of an understanding or acceptance of our minds. If you ask me, that sounds like a less than easy task. So be patient with yourself, and perhaps let one of your first tasks be accepting the difficulties of meditation.
2) I cannot turn my mind off:
Oddly enough, I simultaneously find myself wishing this were possible and being afraid if it were. Alas, the object of most meditation is not to turn your mind off, but rather to observe when your mind wanders. Typically, you begin by focusing on your breath, and make an effort to recognize when your mind has wandered (this will likely happen frequently) and then gently bring your awareness back to your breath. Ideally this skill will transfer over when you are not meditating, and you will begin to recognize when your thoughts or emotions are running amuck and give yourself an opportunity to bring the mind back to where you wish it to be.
3) I can’t sit still for that long:
Depending on the person, meditating can be practiced for a few minutes to hours long at a time. Most people aim for minutes, and the fact that this can truly prove to be so difficult, is a testament to how necessary a skill it is to learn in my opinion. I think most of us struggle to sit still, to just exist in one moment, and to not be overwhelmed or uncomfortable with the feeling of being alone with ourselves and our own minds. Making peace with the silence, or the noise in our own heads is one of the benefits of meditation. My advice is to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. A lot of good can come from this skill.
P.S.- Sometimes I think this makes me a rebel meditator because I'm sure there's good reason to be in a wakeful (seated) posture when you meditate, but I don't usually do that. I often find it uncomfortable to sit in one position for even 10 minutes. A lot of times I meditate while lying down. So if the seated position doesn't feel right to you, for whatever reason, find a position that works best for you and don't feel weird about it :)