Welcome back, everyone! Today we are going to talk about my experiences with meditation and how to overcome common meditation problems.
Meditation has the power to literally change every aspect of your life, from school to your career to your relationships with others and most importantly your relationship with yourself!
After this reading this you will better understand how to deepen your meditation practice as well as how to move through the difficulties that come with starting your meditation practice.
Personal History with Meditation:
Something that motivated me when I was first learning to meditate was hearing about the effects it had on other people after they had been meditating for a few years. I wanted to understand what I was going to get out of this practice if I spent part of every day meditating.
It has been around 5 years since I started meditating and wow, I have learned quite a bit. What is ironic is that I have actually learned about how much more progress there is left to be made.
Yes, I am much better at meditating and I am much more consistent, but I will be refining how I meditate for the rest of my life. With the added awareness that comes from meditation, you begin to unravel the nuances of meditation and that’s where the real fun begins!
What changes occur when starting to meditate:
For the first few years of meditation, you will likely experience a growing awareness of self which includes your thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. This heightened level of awareness leads you to recognize more areas that you can grow in. Over time the speed of self-discovery and growth starts to exponentiate. You start to become increasingly aware of who you are and how you can grow as an individual, as well as how you can grow in your meditation practice.
So if you are just starting out, keep in mind that you will notice some really awesome benefits within the first few days or weeks. But with time that momentum builds and builds and you end up looking back and realize truly how far you’ve come.
The evolution of your soul begins to speed up and you start to transform internally fast and faster. You become more compassionate, more capable of love, more patient, and more present in your day to day life. You will learn to navigate difficult times in your life with more ease. Anxiety and stress will diminish and, with enough practice, can disappear entirely.
If you are struggling with consistency, recognize that by not being consistent your growth rate as an individual is low, and you will only see modest improvements.
Once you dedicate yourself to the practice you will notice profound changes to your awareness of self and others.
Common Meditation Problems:
So now that you have an idea of what you are getting yourself into let’s talk about the pitfalls that most people have to work through. It is important to note that you are not better or worse at meditating if you struggle with a lot of the problems I cover here. It is totally NATURAL to face these issues and do not let them be the reason you give up your meditation practice.
When I first started meditating I really struggled with restlessness. I don’t know about you but I am always doing something. I struggle to just sit still because I always feel like there is something productive I could be doing. What I realized was the restlessness is the brain trying to convince me that there is something else I would rather be doing.
Would you rather be working on all the things you have to get done today or meditating? Most people don’t have productive mediation sessions because their lives bleed into their 15 minutes of silence. Many people can’t stop their minds from endlessly telling them what is next on their todo list. People have so many things to complete in a day and sitting down for 15 minutes becomes almost impossible.
It gets even more impossible when you do sit down to meditate and you can’t stop all the thoughts from bursting into your awareness.
So how do you tackle this? It is actually quite simple. Recognize that it is occurring. Simple as that! Sit there while you meditate and note to yourself that the mind wants to do something else.
Remind yourself that what you want or need to do can wait. Something that I think most people don’t recognize is that in this situation you don’t want to try and push the thoughts away, or get frustrated that they are occurring. You simply want to note the mental triggers and let them be.
Over time they will fade, but don’t get annoyed if they take a little bit. Some days we have a lot of thoughts running through our minds, and it is counterproductive to try and fight them.
I still have bad days but it doesn’t matter because at least I took the 15 minutes out of my day to meditate. The mental unwinding needs to happen, so don’t beat yourself up if your meditation session feels unproductive.
Sleepy or Drowsiness:
First off, I still struggle with sleepiness occasionally. It is okay to struggle with sleepiness, but there are a few reasons that we experience this issue. The first is the timing of the day you have chosen.
I believe the best time to meditate is in the morning. This is because your brain is alive and not worn out from the day. You can bring greater attention to the practice which will improve your sessions! I also think that posture has an effect on our ability to stay present and awake during our meditations.
If you are struggling to stay awake while meditating on your back then I highly suggest sitting upright in a chair instead.
I CANNOT quiet my mind:
Struggling to quiet the mind is the most common meditation problem I see. So many people struggle from this, including me. For the first few years, I actually believed that learning how to meditate properly required removing all the thoughts in my mind.
I would push and shove those thoughts away. I would chastise myself for having all these random thoughts that kept bubbling up. My meditation sessions basically turned into a mental war ground where it was me vs my thoughts.
But as with everything in life, the more you resist the stronger it becomes. This led me to try a different approach, if only it hadn’t taken me years to arrive at this conclusion. But hey, that’s why you are reading this, so you can learn faster than I did!
My new approach to having an overwhelming amount of thoughts is to let them just bubble up and dissipate on their own. I note that the thoughts exist and let them be. Be careful not to start thinking about thinking by trying to stop your thoughts.
A common internal dialogue I faced was:
I have to do X today. No, I’m supposed to be meditating, not thinking. But I can’t stop thinking, it just keeps coming up. But now I’m thinking even more about it.
Then the cycle continues for 15-20 minutes with other thoughts.
The new internal dialogue is:
I have to do X today. Note the thought, recognize it doesn’t need to be dealt with right now, and place my awareness back where it was, which is typically on my breath.
Notice the tugs that pull you back into that thought. Don’t resist them, instead recognize that those impulses don’t serve you.
Acknowledge the thoughts that are coming up more than usual and let them stay. They will naturally fade, trust me. The more you watch it happen the more you will be able to stop resisting and move into letting go mode.
Another common meditation problem is posture. Posture can be a large blocker to having a successful meditation session. If you try to have that perfect lotus position you can legitimately hurt your body, especially after sitting in the same position for 15+ minutes.
The position doesn’t matter. Stop trying to emulate everyone you see online. Do what makes you feel most comfortable even if that means sitting in a chair or against a wall.
The goal is to find a posture that does not interfere with your concentration during a meditation session. If your posture triggers thoughts during your meditation then try out something different.
If your posture causes you to be sleepy (laying on your back) then try something different. Experiment and find a posture that works for you, not against you.
I typically lean against a wall with my legs out in front of me. The most basic posture, but effective.
- Everyone experiences common meditation problems. There is no wrong way to do it. It is impossible to not succeed. 15 minutes in silence is beneficial in itself.
- Even if you have the worse session it was still calming and resting for the mind, body, and soul.
- Experiment with your posture, time of day, and duration to find out what impacts your meditation the most! Remember, find your inner stillness, that is all meditation is.
Hey there! I hope you enjoyed today’s post. My name is Patrick and I am the creator of this blog. If you are new to the site I recommend taking a look around; you may be pleased with what you find.
Welcome, and I hope you enjoy your stay.