Meditation is widely appreciated for its ability to clear the mind and reduce stress… it tends to be a very calming practice. But even though it sounds pretty simple in theory, meditation doesn’t come naturally for everyone.
If you have ever tried to sit still, clear your head and meditate, only to find your mind wandering off or just restless, you are definitely not alone. Like any new practice, there’s a learning curve to really mastering meditation.
To successfully meditate, you just need to overcome the distractions that break your concentration. (Ha!) No, seriously, it’s called a practice for a reason. Because practice is what it takes.
Keeping that in mind, here are a few tips on what you can do when you feel like meditating is impossible.
Try Mindfulness Meditation
After getting into a comfortable position, some people find it difficult to clear their minds. Instead, they start to think about all the errands on their to-do list, what to cook for dinner, or a phone call they need to make.
If this is you, the good news is that you don’t have to completely empty your mind to meditate. Try mindfulness, the art of simply being present to what is. Actively notice the movements of your belly when you breathe in and out… while still being fully aware of your thoughts and surroundings in the moment.
Meditating seems to have become synonymous with the lotus position – sitting down cross-legged on the floor or yoga mat while keeping eyes closed and hands outstretched on your thighs or knees. However, many people aren’t flexible enough to get into those yoga-style positions (stiff joints, bad knees).
Good news again. There’s no rule that says you have to sit cross-legged on the floor to “do meditation.”
Ideally, you just need to get into a comfortable position that allows you to relax with a straight back, and breathe with ease. So, whether you choose to sit in your favorite chair or lie down, finding the best position for you will make meditation much easier than enduring pain or discomfort.
Sometimes Timing is Everything
So, you’re clearing your thoughts and focusing on the rhythm of your breathing, but after a few minutes, you find yourself sleeping like a baby. Dozing off mid-meditation kind of defeats the purpose unless you are meditating to help you sleep.
If you continually fall asleep, you’re probably tired and need the rest. So don’t think badly of yourelf. But DO try to schedule your meditation when you won’t be so tired. Maybe first thing in the morning (but be sure to get out of bed first!). Stretching a little and taking some deep breaths to oxygenate your brain can help, too.
Schedule It, Or It May Not Happen
Much like working out, making time to meditate every day can do a lot of good for your health. Studies have found that meditation can improve sleep, sharpen memory, ease chronic pain or reduce anxiety and stress. So when you feel like you can’t meditate because you’re too busy, just remind yourself of the health benefits you’ll be getting.
Besides, you don’t have to meditate for hours in order to benefit. Start by squeezing in as little as five to ten minutes at lunch time to meditate and work your way up to longer sessions later, if you want.
Restless? Walk It Off
If you fidget a lot when you’re trying to meditate, maybe sitting isn’t the right approach for you. Instead, try a walking meditation to work out “the fidgets.” This can be just as effective as sitting meditation and you can practice mindfulness at the same time. Bonus!
So, if you struggle to meditate in spite your best efforts, try these tips and reap the benefits of meditation.