10 Obstacles To Meditation
Here are my top ten based on my own experience and other teachers and students.
1. Not enough time.
With regular meditation you actually get a lot more done in the time you have available. You are more likely to focus and less likely to be distracted. Start your practice with just 5 minutes a day and build it up from there. Everyone can find 5 minutes, can't they?
2, Don’t know how.
If you can sit or lie down, close your eyes, and breathe in and out, you know how to meditate! That is basically all it is. Simple mindfulness meditation has no goal other than sitting still and being comfortable with just being. Yes, there are other techniques with mantras, visualisations and the rest but you they are not essential so if you still think you need to read a book about it, don't - just start doing it.
3. Can’t sit still.
It sounds simple but it can be really challenging. Suddenly you're thirsty or hungry or both. You want to write down something. Your arm itches. Your mind doesn't want you to sit still, it's got much better things to do. Regular practice enables you to hear this mental chatter, accept it and let it pass. With time, the pull to move reduces and sitting still becomes a welcome pause in your life. If you can’t sit still because it hurts your back or your legs, try lying down.
4. Can’t stop thinking.
Meditation happens through accepting your thoughts, not fighting them. At first thoughts seem to appear in one long flood with no space or pause. In time thoughts slow down, become less distracting and the gaps between the thoughts become more interesting. By trying to stop your thoughts you are encouraging them, just accept what arises and keep coming back to your breath.
5. Clock watching.
Set an alarm. I use the one on my phone. Then forget about it. If you think 'How long is left?' just note that thought and come back to your breath. Commit to a time period and stick to it. Build it up slowly and surely. Every time you notice the urge to look at the time, accept it but don't open your eyes, just come back again and again to the feelings of your breath.
6. Too many external distractions.
It’s too noisy. Gone are the days when we could disappear into a cave and be left undisturbed until we emerged some time later fully enlightened. Instead, we all have to deal with the sounds and impositions of the world around us. But — and it’s a big but — we needn’t let it impose. Cars going by outside? Fine. Let them go by, just don’t go with them. The quiet you are looking for is inside, not outside.
7. It's boring.
In some respects this is true. Our lives are so busy - watching TV whilst being on Facebook and sending a text, working at home, online shopping at work, juggling children (not literally I hope!). It's not surprising that meditation feels boring in comparison. But bear with it. The beauty of inner silence, once found, can be with you whenever and wherever you need it.
8. It's scary.
Stuff comes up when we sit. Not always the stuff we want. Old stuff, old issues, old problems, old worries. It can feel uncomfortable. Facing your inner fears and staying with them rather than eating cake or going shopping takes courage. Be brave. Finding the real you is worth it.
9. What's the point?
You can read about it. You can listen to teachers telling their stories. You can want to believe it, even if secretly you don't. Existential angst? Why not start with this simple thought? Trust yourself. Notice what happens between your breaths, between your thoughts. Notice your being, the background to your thoughts, feelings and actions. Trust and then see what happens. What have you got to lose?
10. I'm just no good at it.
You cannot be good or bad at meditation. Meditation leads you to a place of non-judgement. As soon as you think 'Hey, I'm getting good at meditation, you're not!'. As soon as you think 'Argh, I really suck at meditation, you don't!'. Awareness has no polarity. It just is. Meditation just is too. You already have the treasure inside, why look elsewhere? You are already perfect, just realise it!
Why not have a look at my 6 week Mindfulness Made Easy course?
Please share your experiences in the comments below.