Want to know the number one reason more people don’t meditate? They simply believe they don’t know how. Or they think they’re doing it wrong because three thousands thoughts race through their mind within the first minute of plunking down.
If this describes you, you’re not alone. But it’s no reason to give up on it altogether. In fact, feeling “bad” at meditation likely means you have even more to gain from making it a regular practice in your life.
Meditation’s main purpose is to help people tune in, observe their thoughts (without trying to change them), and be totally present with themselves. If the mind is very busy, you might notice, “Hey, I have a lot on my mind right now.” Dealing with distractions is part of the experience, and it certainly doesn’t mean you’re failing.
One of the biggest misconceptions about meditation is the notion that if we don’t achieve a completely blank mind then we’re somehow doing it wrong, or that our practice is flawed and weak. The opposite is actually true: Observing that you’re thinking about other things is a form of success.
The scientific literature is teeming with articles about the benefits of meditation, from improving your mood to easing anxiety to reducing chronic pain. In one study, the use of meditation for 16 weeks in coronary heart disease patients improved blood pressure and insulin resistance components of metabolic syndrome compared with a control group, suggesting that meditation may modulate the stress response to improve coronary heart disease risk factors. The whole body really does benefit when we meditate.
Below are 3 simple ways you can get started with meditation today.
- Join a yoga class – Yoga is a moving form of meditation that links poses to breath. Signing up for – or dropping in to – a yoga class can be a great introduction to meditation, as a trained instructor will be there to keep you focused on the sound of your breathing. And the miracle of connecting with your breath is that it makes it virtually impossible to think about anything else!
- Engage in “check out line meditation” – Even small time commitments can bring about significant results. The idea of meditating for two or five minutes feels a lot more doable to most people (which helps with compliance and results!) than expecting themselves to squeeze in two 20 minutes sessions each day. To this end, I advise my clients to take up “check out line meditation,” or “red light meditation” – which is where you pair some daily dead time with an opportunity for mindfulness. That way there’s no trying to cram it in at the end of a long day.
- Practice compassion – Upset with your boss or disappointed with your kids? Learning to feel compassion for yourself and others is one of the simplest and most powerful lessons that meditation offers. According to wellness advocate Kris Carr, “Compassion is the beating heart of all spiritual practices. The peace you seek comes from the peace you create.”
Just remember, there’s a reason meditation is called a practice. It is a learned skill, and like any skill, will improve over time with practice.
Give these simple ideas a try, and I guarantee you can master meditation too.
Now I want to hear from you. Do you practice meditation or mindfulness? If so, how do you make time for it in your busy life? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.
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