5 Excuses On Why You Can’t Meditate [+ How To Overcome Them : )]
Meditation + Mindfulness seems to be the trend lately. I’ll admit, I was a huge skeptic at first — when someone would tell me, “you should meditate on that,” I would roll my eyes like, “right, that’s going to solve my problems.” Does that ring a bell with you? Even if you’ve fully embraced the mindfulness trend, maybe you find yourself questioning, is this even working?
I finally started changing my mind last year because of 3 things…
- I realized I *meditated* A LOT more than I thought — I just didn’t call it meditation.
- I took an intensive MBSR [mindfulness based stress reduction] course.
- I’ve *finally* started to see some huge improvements in my mental clarity, mindset, + emotional regulation.
I want to share with you the excuses I used to make when it came to meditation + mindfulness… ++ how I overcame those excuses. Ultimately, meditation + mindfulness became a huge resource for my mental health, ++ I hope you’ll give it a try! : )
I believe it was Tony Robbins who said, “If you don’t have 10 minutes, you don’t have a life.” I completely agree with this! By embracing a meditation or mindfulness practice — you don’t have to have hours a day to devote to sitting in silence. In fact, my morning meditation is typically 9 minutes [not even 10]! Why 9 minutes? Because that’s the amount of time during my snooze on the alarm I hit. Yes — I wake up every morning, hit snooze + fall into my morning meditation practice of focusing on my breath for 9 minutes before I either start the day or decide that I need to do a longer sitting meditation.
Your meditation practice doesn’t have to be a *big deal* — you don’t have to announce it to everyone around you, or go sit off in a corner of your room — you can simply pause + sit still wherever you are! Or, if you find yourself stressed out on your way to class, make walking to class your meditation — focus on your breathing + feeling your feet hit the ground with every step. Even just 1-2 minutes of mindful presence counts!
Feeling like it is impossible to sit still for that long might be a part of the reason why you need some meditation in your life! : ) In all reality though, I really struggled with sitting still for a long time too. Whenever I would *take my seat* for a meditation, I would instantly feel the burning in my shoulders, the knots in my neck + back, + the dull aches all over my body. I felt [+ sometimes still feel] so uncomfortable just sitting there. One day I was listening to a Jack Kornfield dharma talk [check out his podcast — Heart Wisdom Hour] ++ he touched on the aches + pains with sitting still. I heard him express these knots, pains, + sensations as our emotions + thoughts making their way through our body before release.
Now, whenever I take my seat + am filled with the sensations of burning, stinging, aching, tired, soreness, etc — I simply name them + allow them to pass through my body. I acknowledge that these are past thoughts, emotions, etc that are just passing along – some might take a few minutes, some might last the entire meditation, some are carried with me all day, but I trust that eventually they will dissipate.
Also – if you are ever SO uncomfortable sitting, I try to lay down, use a wall, or adjust your seat. Don’t hurt yourself! It shouldn’t be a painful process [although reading what I wrote above it sounds pretty painful — doesn’t it?]. There are many times when I’ve tried sitting with the aches + pains of my body, yet they are still struggling…. I gently shift to another posture, such as laying down!
Struggling with focusing on your breath for 10 minutes? ME TOO! Try 5 minutes [or even 1 minute] + work your way up to 10 minutes. Also recognize that some days it might be easier or better than other days — that’s how working out often is too! Think of meditation [especially where you are focusing on one thing] as a workout for your mind. Some days might be awesome, others you might struggle to sit for 5 minutes, + still others you might miss it entirely — give yourself the grace of understanding that this is a part of the journey.
Something that has made my practice easier is *naming* what’s going on. After I’ve centered myself with a few deep breaths, I start identifying what’s going on as it comes into my awareness. If I am feeling a burning in my shoulders from sitting up straight, I’ll acknowledge it by saying, “burning, burning.” Or, if I catch myself thinking about my plans for the evening or things I have to get done on the *to-do* list, I’ll acknowledge is by saying, “Planning, Planning” or “Listing, Listing.” It’s really helpful when the inner critic voice starts to speak, letting me know that I am not *meditating right* + I can say, “Judging, Judging.” Incorporating my thoughts, twitches, + feelings into my meditations has allowed me to feel like my meditation is more of a *training* rather than just sitting there + breathing ; ).
Whenever I hear someone say this, I get a puzzled look on my face… I’ve found that there really is no *right way to meditate.* Sure, there are great practices ++ there are things you can do to make your practice more consistent or help you with your practice [for example — if you meditate while sitting up, you’re less likely to fall asleep ; )]. However, there are many different ways to meditate! If you are struggling with feeling like there is a *right* or *wrong* way of meditating, I encourage you to just sit still for 3 minutes. When [or if!] you catch your mind wandering or your body wanting to twitch during your sitting — just bring it back to “an anchor”, feeling your feet on the ground or your breath going in + out. Every time you’re able to bring yourself back to your present moment self from a mind-wandering adventure, give yourself a point — you’re doing it right!
If you get caught up or lost in some story inside your head or your to-do list for the day ++ you are instantly brought back to your seat by the alarm on your phone going off letting you know it’s been 3 minutes, just tell yourself *success! I came back to the present moment because of my alarm.* Whether you have to bring yourself back to the present moment + your anchor 1 time or 1000 times, you are doing it right + you are taking moments + energy just for yourself + paying attention to what’s going on within YOU.
Jack Kornfield relates training your mind like training a puppy [I’m obsessed with puppies so I loved this analogy]. When you are training a puppy you don’t get angry or upset at it. It’s a puppy! When it runs off or starts crying you just bring it back to the present moment, comfort it as best you can, + keep moving forward. Yelling or criticizing a puppy for bouncing around + being uncontrollable is not going to help train it — only with patience + gentleness will the puppy learn to sit, stay, + heal.
This was the biggest excuse I had to overcome. As I said before – I was [as Dan Harris would say], a “fidgety skeptic.” I didn’t believe that practicing meditation would offer me any benefits. In fact I found myself believing that if I started a regular practice I would become less productive or would somehow *lose* parts of myself + become a zen person.. I know it sounds ridiculous. I’m happy to report that Meditation has not transformed me into a robed monk — I still love my workouts in the Red Room at Barry’s + haven’t *lost my edge* so to speak, but I have developed a few insights that have helped me become a happier person.
Did I miss an excuse that you make as to why you can’t//won’t//shouldn’t meditate — let me know + let’s figure out the solution together : )