So, you've probably read all about the benefits of meditation, from easing stress, improving concentration and even tackling that ‘monkey mind’ - it all sounds great and who doesn’t want more of that, right? But, when you sit down and give it a go, it doesn’t feel like it’s working and you’re thinking that maybe it’s not for you?
But, before you throw in the towel, please hear me out…
Because, I’ve been there too. I bought books about meditation in the 90’s and never read them - or meditated! And, over a decade later when I tried to cultivate a meditation practice, I never got passed a sporadic 10 minutes here and there - often falling asleep a few minutes in (who knew it was so easy to fall asleep while sitting on the floor)!
Nothing changed until...
I decided enough was enough. My mind was running out of control, the highs and lows were feeling too extreme and I was worried that I was losing my way. Having been drawn to meditation all those years ago, I knew in my heart that it could help.
So, in a moment of inspiration I made a commitment to myself to practice for 2 minutes; every day for 30 days. I even created a habit tracker so that I could track my progress because who doesn’t love ticking off the days as you go - such a motivation!
It worked, and after 30 days…
Just those 2 minutes every day started to make a difference, I was beginning to reconnect to something I had lost and my thoughts were starting to slow down a little. It was enough to motivate me to keep going and and I’ve not looked back since. I slowly increased my time from 2 minutes to 5, then 10 and upwards. I’m sure that I’ve missed a day here and there but in the most part I’ve managed to keep it a daily practice - and, I don’t fall asleep anymore!
My point? If I can start with just 2 minutes a day then anyone can. I think that patience and understanding is the key and so if you hit any of these bumps in the road, know that they’re perfectly normal and not a sign that it’s not for you.
Up until now your thoughts have had free reign over your mind. It’s common for them to resist that zen like state that you're hoping to reach. Be patient with yourself. The goal of meditation is not to stop your thoughts but simply to observe them and learn not to engage. So, when they arrive act like an observer - create a little distance from them and let them pass by like clouds. Over time, they will slow down and it becomes easier to let them pass. This skill alone is life changing because it spreads into your everyday life helping you to remain calm and much less reactive.
I’ve already confessed to this one and it’s so very common, especially if you’ve been running on empty for a while and are perhaps not getting all the sleep you need (here are a few tips for that). When this happens then you can always go with it and take a nap if that’s what your body is asking for. But, I found that by starting small with just 2 minutes every day, it didn’t give me enough time to drift off. If you really struggle to stay awake then try changing position or using a guided meditation to keep your focus a little more awake.
It’s absolutely possible that the stillness will make you feel uncomfortable, we live in a stimulant heavy world with entertainment at our fingertips 24/7; it’s not unusual to feel a little withdrawal from it. Restlessness can also be a result of you feeling as though you should be doing something else - perhaps your 'to do' list is racing through your head and sitting still starts to feel like a waste of time. Again, be gentle with yourself. This is a great opportunity to observe and see where the feelings live in your body. In the short term try breathing into it and then return your focus back to your practise. But, if tension continues to show up in the same area of your body use this as a guide for further development such as chakra cleansing, this gives you something to explore as your practise grows.
I hope that I've reassured you that these challenges are perfectly normal on your path to creating your own meditation practice. In much the same way that one trip to the gym doesn't solve your body issues - meditation takes a little time and patience to feel the benefits.
Remember that I started with just 2 minutes a day and we all have that, right? Here’s a copy of my 30 day habit tracker to help you get started today. Don’t forget to let me know how you get on…
AUTHOR: LEANNA DOOLIN
Co – Founder of holistic skincare brand, Pure Thoughts and advocate for women finding pause in their day to breathe deeply, give thanks and reconnect to what matters. Loves early mornings, dogs and books that you can’t put down.