Do you often feel lost in your thoughts and emotions? Maybe you react to your emotions more than you would like; suffer from mental fatigue, anxiety or depression? Do you wish for some mental peace? A few moments where you can drown out the background chatter of the mind? All of the above? You’re not alone! Hence why meditation is becoming more and more common.
At its most simple, meditation is about focusing on your breathing to allow you to be in the moment, to be present and aware of your thoughts and your body allowing you some mental peace. At its most complex, however, it’s a step towards spiritual transformation, enlightenment and controlling your thoughts and emotions.
Despite the different reasons for why you should meditate there is one thing all will agree on and that is that meditation is key to allowing the mind to relax and giving you time with yourself to better understand your mind. It may seem obvious to us that to best get to know a stranger you would take time to listen and understand them. Which, thus, makes it very confusing why we do not take time for ourselves and to understand our own mind.
So, given that at its most simple meditation is a very easy exercise that costs nothing, can be done anywhere and has many benefits, let’s look at why many people start only to give up.
‘I don’t know where to start’. The spectrum of opinion and information available about meditation really can make adopting it quite overwhelming, leading to confusion around what it is and why we do it. These thoughts then take over the mental space and defeat the whole purpose behind meditation which is to just calm the mind.
The main thing to take away is to realise you are not alone in feeling confused about the results of this new habit you’re forming. I too felt this way, I felt it wasn’t working it, but I relied on the overall idea I was trying to calm my mind and kept going. I did not quit and now it is one of my favourite things to do! There are many reasons to meditate – all of them are correct: the fact you want to meditate is enough so forget about why or what should be happening and focus on making sure you do.
‘I don’t know how to meditate’. This is understandable. Each video on meditation has a different take on meditation. It is similar to the many takes on why you should meditate. Again, do not focus on whether you are doing things right or wrong.
Find a quiet area, sit in any comfortable position, breathe deeply so it is felt in your belly and just focus on how your body feels. Thoughts, as I mentioned before, will come and go. The aim is to breathe past them, keeping your focus internally and allowing these thoughts to come and go. Do not judge them, do not judge yourself, simply breathe. This is meditation at its most simple. This will become easier and easier he more frequently you do it.
Quick tip, find a guided meditation on Youtube or Spotify and commit to practising that every day for 6 months. The impact isn’t immediate – be patient!
‘I can’t control my thoughts’ is the number one thing I hear! The first myth to debunk is the idea that you will have no thoughts. If you have no thoughts then you are enlightened and you needn’t worry about this blog. Accept that thoughts will come into your mind – you cannot stop them. Critically, though – DO NOT JUDGE YOURSELF based on these thoughts. We are constantly thinking, feeling emotions and reacting to them and to what goes on outside of us. Therefore, this is unlikely to change overnight or over a year. However, whilst sitting quietly and focusing internally on the body we allow the mind to slow down and gain a greater awareness of our thoughts. Let your thoughts come and go. Breathe past them; keep the focus on your breathing and your body.
‘It doesn’t work for me’ can be the case for many reasons.
Firstly, it implies you having expectations about what happens when you meditate and about how quickly you should see benefits. You need to remember everyone’s mind is different; if you keep it simple and put no expectations on the experience you will get the best from it.
Putting an expectation on what you should get out of the experience will involve constant thought about whether you are getting those things or not, which instantly leads to judgement. Stop this and focus on just enjoying the silence and time by yourself. As you meditate more and understand your mind you will towards the meditation that best suits you. You may never see the benefits until one day you realise that thing that used to frustrate you no longer get a reaction.
With meditation, frequency is much more key than length of time. Doing five minutes every morning and evening is much better than an hour group session a week. Frequent practice allows you to build habits and stay relaxed though the week. As with anything in life frequent practice leads to mastery and getting the most out of it – the same applies with meditation.
Another issue which means you do not feel it works involves practicing meditation in areas or situations where you are likely to be disturbed. This is your time, a time to be alone with your mind, so make sure no one can disturb it.
‘I don’t have the time’. This one is pretty ironic! A very simple way to fix this is to change your vocabulary and tell yourself mental health isn’t a priority. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, has five minutes a day to meditate. Or, as the saying goes ‘if you don’t have five minutes you need to make an hour’. Meditation pays a return on investment like no other. As with any investment that feels uneasy, manage your risk by starting small. You do not need to commit to meditating 30 minutes a day every morning and night.
This is one mistake I made early which forced a mindset of ‘there’s no point only doing five minutes’. It was only after months of never making 30 minutes a day that I started with five. The benefits of doing so very quickly lead me to wanting to commit more time daily, to the point now where I look forward to meditation and can sit for an hour and enjoy the practice.
There may be other reasons as to why you do not meditate and if there are feel free to share them with me as I would love to understand them. I have seen the benefits of meditating daily and peace it has brought to my mind. I combated all these reasons whilst getting into a meditation routine so felt it was only fair to share my experience and if even one person takes up meditation as a result I will be happy!