August 4, 2016

The 2 Main Obstacles to Meditation & Why they aren’t Real.

Flickr/Mike Lay

It really pisses me off when I see people perpetuating the myth that meditation requires a completely still mind.

That myth puts meditation in an elusive realm.

It causes many to believe meditation isn’t for them.

Meditation is called a “practice” for a reason. We practice quieting our minds every time we notice how busy they are. And, for most people, the mind will continue to be busy throughout a meditation.

It is the nature of our minds to think. Meditation is a process of gently releasing our thoughts, but it is not a thought-free process. If it were thought-free, what would there be to release?

Thoughts continually interject our quiet time and many people misinterpret these interruptions as a sign that they’re not meditating correctly, or that it just doesn’t work for them.

That is not the case.

The moments of mindfulness in meditation arise when we notice that our minds have wandered off to other distractions—and we choose to bring them back to our point of focus (such as mantra or breath).

The expectation of some profound experience of complete stillness sets us up for disappointment, can make us feel like a failure and, ultimately, can deter us from continuing the practice.

So let’s just bin that expectation right now.

It’s more than okay to notice that our minds have wandered off; it’s an opportunity to bring ourselves back to the present moment.

During meditation, we do that repeatedly. It’s a time to sit with ourselves and consciously quiet our minds—over and over. It provides multiple opportunities to bring ourselves back to the present, a time when we have nothing to do (even if our minds tell us otherwise) but notice our thoughts and let them go.

That is the process of meditation and, despite its seeming simplicity, it brings benefits on many levels. It may not feel all that profound when we’re practicing it, but when practiced regularly, it can facilitate profound changes in our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.

The other main obstacle to a regular meditation practice lies in our beliefs around time. Namely, the belief that we do not have enough time to meditate. We are simply too busy.

Again, that is not the case.

We can always find time to meditate, because even a few minutes a day is worth doing.

Granted, the ideal is a minimum of 20 minutes each morning and evening. But, if we can only find five minutes once a day, it is still worthwhile.

And let’s not pretend that it’s impossible to carve out five minutes a day. Skip a scroll through a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feed, and we have a slot for a little meditation. Skip a TV program, and we have a slot for a 20 to 30-minute sit.

The lack of time isn’t the real problem.

The real problem is resistance to prioritizing meditation. (We could call it self-sabotage.)

Meditation is a self-care practice.

Of course, there are many ways to practice self-care, and it is up to each of us to discover what works best for us. Meditation may or may not be it.

However, the only way to know for sure is practice—for a while, not just once or twice.

Practice it with an open mind, without the expectation that our minds be completely still.

Practice it for just a few minutes—if that is all we have—every day (or most days).

Don’t worry about having thoughts, or about only having a few minutes. Just do it, a little each day, and allow it to take effect incrementally.

Practice it with non-judgment, waiting a while (at least a few weeks) to observe what difference it makes when we do build it into our daily lives.

Forget about all the reasons why it wouldn’t or couldn’t work. With a little practice, there’s a good chance it will be of benefit to you, too.



How Meditation Heals & Why 5 Minutes a Day can Change our Lives.


Author: Hilda Carroll

Image: Mike Lay/Flickr

Editor: Toby Israel


Read 39 Comments and Reply

Read 39 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Hilda Carroll  |  Contribution: 28,365