So, you've read all about the benefits of meditation, you even have a friend that swears by it! But, when you sit down and try it for yourself you’re left feeling like 'it's not working' or 'this isn't for me'.
Before you throw in the towel, please know that we've all been there - most of us weren't raised doing these things and it can take a little time for it to feel right. It was same for me; although I had strong belief in the benefits that it could bring I resisted making the time for meditation and then when i did my mind would wander all over the place! I wasn't well practised at slowing down which made it a challenge - not one that I was prepared to lose though.
The key was patience and understanding, it's just like when you start exercising and moving your body in a new way which can feel uncomfortable for a while. Before long though your progress starts to feel great and you’re enthusiastically telling everyone about it! I can hold my hand up to that one, I've been regularly meditating for a couple of years now and I could spend all day singing it’s praises to anyone that will listen.
If you're ready to give meditation another try or even if you’re starting for the first time here are a few bumps in the road that most of us come up against; trust me they'll pass in time - just like those aches and pains after your first trip to the gym!
Your thoughts have had free reign for most of your life, they're going to resist that zen like state that you're hoping to reach. Be kind to yourself here, let your thoughts arrive but do not engage with them. Act like a observer - simply watch them for a second and let them pass by like clouds. Don't expect your thoughts to stop during meditation, over time they will lessen and you'll be much less conscious of them. This alone brings benefits beyond belief and once practised helps you to become calmer and more observant - rather than reactive - of your thoughts.
This is so common and understandable especially if you’re the kind of person who only relaxes when they sleep! That was very much me when I started and it took me a few weeks to overcome the sleepiness that took over when I sat down to practise - who knew that it was so easy to fall asleep while sitting up! You have the option to go with it - if you’re tired then a nap might be the better option. If it happens regularly then try changing the time of day you practise, the music or guided mediation that you're using or simply the position that your sitting in - having your feet firmly planted on the ground can help here.
It’s possible that the stillness will make you uncomfortable, we live in a stimulant heavy world, we have entertainment at our fingertips 24/7 and the withdrawal from it could make you feel uncomfortable. Restlessness can also be a result of you feeling as though you should be doing something else - your 'to do' list racing through your head while sitting still is guaranteed to make you feel a bit tense! Again, be gentle and understanding. Observe where the feeling lives in your body and breathe into it before returning your focus back to your practise. If tension continues to show up in the same area of your body then this can be a useful guide for further development and you may want to explore chakra cleansing, as your practise grows.
I hope that I've reassured you that these bumps in the road are perfectly normal on your path to meditation. In much the same way that one trip to the gym doesn't solve your body issues - meditation takes time and commitment to see the benefits. Try taking small daily steps, starting with two minutes every day - this is what worked for me and after 30 days of tiny increases I finally made my practise a daily habit.
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.