3 Common Blocks To Creating A Daily Meditation Practice (& How To Break Through Them)
From increases in creativity and compassion to decreases in stress levels, a daily meditation practice can offer a host of benefits that make it a powerful tool for building overall health and wellness.
While sitting quietly seems like a simple task, anyone who has ever tried to create a daily practice will most likely tell you that doing so can be quite challenging.
People encounter a number of obstacles when creating a daily meditation practice.
Here are three of the most common blocks along with some simple methods for breaking through them:
Block #1: I Don’t Know Where to Start
With so many different types of meditation, from Zen to Vipassana to loving kindness meditation, it’s no wonder that people are often confused about where to start.
Even the simple definition offered by Merriam-Webster, which defines “meditation” as “the act or process of spending time in quiet thought,” leaves much to be desired in terms of clarity.
If meditating is simply spending time in quiet thought, wouldn’t driving home from work without the radio on count?
For anyone who is interested in developing their own meditation practice, a wonderful starting place would be to explore the different types of meditation to determine what method most suits you.
If your desire is to reduce stress or anxiety in your life, you might want to try a mindfulness meditation which has been linked to decreased stress.
If your goal is to develop a more open-hearted approach to life, a loving kindness meditation might interest you. If sitting still doesn’t appeal to you, a walking meditation might be more your pace.
Once you’ve figured out which type of meditation you would like to try, you can learn the basics of that practice through books, in-person with a teacher, or via online resources, like YouTube videos, podcasts, and apps, which are often free.
The key is to start with whatever piques your interest and to be gentle with yourself as you go through the process of learning something new.
Block #2: I Can’t Stop Thinking
One of the most common struggles that people experience when they’re first developing a meditation practice is feeling frustrated with the busyness of their own mind.
A widespread misconception of meditation is that the purpose is to completely empty the mind of thoughts.
While being able to completely stop thinking sounds like a nice ideal, particularly for anyone who’s plagued with an overactive mind, it’s not actually an attainable goal as the brain is hardwired for thought.
Instead of trying to empty the mind, make your practice about bringing greater awareness to your experience, which includes physical sensations, emotions, and thoughts.
As you meditate, notice what comes up in your mind and body without forming an attachment to the experiences.
For example, as thoughts arise, silently acknowledge them like a stranger passing you on the street, and then instead of getting lost in the thoughts, let them go and bring your awareness back to the focus of your meditation, whether that’s your breath, your sensory experiences, a mantra, or a specific image.
If you find that certain thoughts are particularly persistent, you can disengage with them by simply labeling them as “thinking,” “planning,” “worrying,” “fantasizing,” “remembering,” or whatever term describes the general experience you are having when the thought comes up.
This can help move your focus from the content of the thought back to an awareness of your experience and can be quite effective in training the mind to stay present with your practice.
Block #3: I Don’t Have Enough Time
Many yogis will say that the hardest part of yoga is making it onto your mat, and the same idea applies to a meditation practice.
When you have a schedule that’s absolutely packed, it can be hard to hit the pause button and take some time to just be still; however, those of us with the busiest lives are perhaps the most in need of a regular meditation practice.
In order to make sure that your daily meditation doesn’t get bumped to the bottom (or completely off) of your list of priorities, block out regular, and preferably consistent, time in your schedule for your practice.
For many people, meditating first thing in the morning is not only a wonderful way to ensure that they get their daily practice in, it also allows them to start their day from a calm and centered place.
Whatever time of day you choose, make sure that you set any reminders necessary on your phone or calendar so that you can be sure to honor your commitment to yourself and receive the many powerful benefits of a daily meditation practice.
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