Meditation, while simple to do, isn’t always easy. I have been meditating for many years (at some points in my life more than others), and each time I sit down to do it is unique. Sometimes I’m restless. Sometimes my legs hurt. Sometimes I can’t seem to calm down and regulate my breath. Sometimes I overcome these obstacles and have a great, centering, uplifting meditation… and other times I don’t.
While I treasure my “successful meditation” sessions most — the ones during which I feel serene, present, and aware — I have learned a great deal from my not-so-successful meditation sessions. Every time I meditate, I get a little bit better at it. I’m able to let go just a bit more, relax myself a bit faster, and attune myself just a bit finer. This holds especially true during the times that I meditate regularly.
For your meditation guidance, the following are seven things that can throw off your meditation… and what to do about each obstacle.
These are pretty much inevitable in many households. If you have other family members, kids, and/or pets running around, you’re pretty likely to get interrupted if you’re meditating at home. While learning to overcome interruptions and center yourself after they occur is an important part of learning to meditate, they can certainly put a damper on your zen sometimes.
Solution: You have several options to avoid interruptions while you meditate. You could attend a group meditation, or meditate somewhere else outside of your home where you may have more privacy. Or, you could let your family know the time that you are meditating, and ask that you not be bothered during this time… if at all possible.
Akin to interruptions are the random noises of life that are just a part of normal daily existence. It’s pretty much impossible to have complete silence around you when you meditate… unless you have a soundproof room in your house. When you’re settling into meditation, it’s a given that you’ll hear the noises of the house, the noises coming in from outside… and more.
Solution: Accept the sounds. Treat them like you would intrusive thoughts. Acknowledge them, and let them pass through your mind and exit your consciousness. Move on. Keep doing that.
If you are a frequent procrastinator, maybe you’ve been planning on fitting some meditation sessions into your schedule, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. The problem is, if you put it off long enough, you’ll probably never actually get around to it.
Solution: Make time for a meditation session today! Not tomorrow, not next week — today. Do all you can to make sure you stick to your plan. Enlist the help of a friend if necessary.
I often start getting antsy when beginning meditation. My legs get restless, my toes get fidgety, and it’s often hard to get comfortable. This is a normal part of the process, and you can overcome those antsies!
Solution: Actively relax your body. When you sit down to meditate, focus on relaxing each part of your body. Start with your toes and work your way up to your neck and head (you probably have tension in your temples even though you don’t realize it). Practice makes perfect.
Sometimes it can be helpful to meditate when in a panicked state, or to reverse a panic attack before it starts… but not always. Sometimes sitting still in meditation makes my panic attack worse if one is already in full swing when I begin. If this happens, I am unable to breathe and relax myself properly. Meditating regularly can help to prevent panic attacks… but an impromptu meditation may not help once an attack begins.
Solution: If you’re having a panic attack, it may be more helpful to move around than meditate. Take a walk, or go for a run, and breathe as naturally as you can. Call a friend if talking through your panic helps. Then, when your mind has settled a bit, try your meditation again.
If you have a bad back, or an injury, sitting in some meditation positions may be painful or uncomfortable. This doesn’t mean you can’t meditate… it just means that you may have to take some extra steps to make sure that you are not making your pain worse.
Solution: If it helps, set up pillows for yourself. Sit on a cushion, and put one behind your back against a wall. Or, you may find it more comfortable to meditate in a comfy chair. If neither of these are good options for you, you could do a walking meditation, or try meditating lying down.
It’s nearly impossible to focus on meditation if you have the seconds until your next task counting down in your head. If you’re in a hurry, late for another event, or mentally preparing for a meeting, you’re likely not getting much out of your meditation.
Solution: Plan adequate meditation time. Block off however long you need in your schedule book, and make sure it does not run into any other plans. You may wish to keep the times right before and right after you meditate clear, if possible.
What other obstacles have you run into while meditating? How did you overcome them?
— Meditation Daily