Meditationally challenged? Sticking to a meditation routine can be like flossing your teeth regularly: we know the benefits, but we don’t take the time to do it on a regular basis, and then we feel guilty and shameful for not doing it. Through my own imperfect practice and through working with others oozing with meditation regret, I’ve found 7 primary mistruths that interfere with our meditation practice: “I don’t have time to meditate” Thirty seconds? That’s plenty. Two minutes? That works too. There is no minimum time requirement for meditation regardless of whether you’re a beginner or an experienced veteran. Even if you are simply squeezing in some mindfulness on your morning commute, connecting with nature on your morning run, or repeating mantras while you shower, you are meditating, and you will benefit from those simple efforts no matter how brief. There is no one-size fits all rule to meditation. What works for you today may not suit you tomorrow. Depending on where you are in your physical journey and on your spiritual path, your meditation practice will ebb and flow in duration and frequency. Go with it. When it comes to meditation, bite-sized pieces are every bit as nourishing as a 7-course meal (and calorie-free to boot!). “I fall asleep when I meditate” Dozing off is a common side effect of meditation, especially when you’re starting a new practice or reviving a neglected practice. Your entire life, you’ve been conditioned to fall asleep when you cease activity and close your eyes, so don’t expect to unwind that practice in one fell swoop. There is no shame in nodding off from time to time, because that is exactly what your body needs at that moment. One of the ways meditation is beneficial is to show us what is needed in our physical lives. Sometimes what is needed is physical rest, so if your body responds by falling asleep, then rest assured that is exactly what is needed at that time. Sleep is the necessary practice of resting the conscious mind and recuperation while simultaneously awakening our creative and intuitive mind, and that is precisely the benefit of mediation as well. (Coincidence?) Because the process is similar and familiar, I recommend people who are just starting a meditation practice to begin by meditating in bed just before they fall asleep. Yes, really! You can meditate yourself to sleep. Why fight it? Besides, sleeping is the body’s most natural time to access states of higher consciousness, so what feels akin to dozing may actually be a divine connection in process.
Even regular meditators experience a natural waxing and waning of their practice.
“I can’t stop my mind from wandering” Join the club! Sweet one, the only way to fully stop your mind from wandering is to be dead. Period. NOT thinking is an unrealistic goal. So rather than trying to stop thoughts from coming, notice the thoughts that come naturally without getting swept up in the current. Observe the thoughts without alarm or judgment, but opt instead for the peace that comes after you grant audience to those thoughts.
“I can’t stick with a meditation routine” Even regular meditators experience a natural waxing and waning of their practice. The ways in which we meditate, the amount of time we devote to sitting in meditation, and the frequency of our meditations should adjust naturally over time and in response to our needs and life circumstances at that time. There is no reason to force yourself to continue in one way or another. Even if it has worked for you for a period of time, you will likely need to shake things up from time to time. Go with the flow. “I don’t know how to meditate” Meditation is different for every individual. Different techniques or styles of meditation will work for some, but none will work for all individuals. You don’t have to sit in a certain position. You don’t have to use prescribed mantras. You don’t have to use beads or meditation cushions. Heck, you don’t even have to close your eyes if you don’t want to. There is no right or wrong way to meditate. Experiment with different modes of meditating, then tweak your favorites to dial them in to your specific tastes. You can’t do it wrong as long as you are doing it.
If you're waiting for fireworks or the voice of God, you're missing the point.
“Nothing happens when I meditate” The point of meditation is not to have powerful clairvoyant experiences or even to gain insight. If you’re waiting for fireworks or the voice of God, you’re missing the point. The one thing that is supposed to happen when you meditate is to reinforce your connection to your own higher self. Stop straining for an unnecessary goal, and instead allow your highest consciousness to script the experience for you. You may not always be aware of the growth and healing that takes place through meditation, but I assure you it is taking place.
“I can’t sit still to meditate” You don’t have to sit still to meditate! One of my favorite meditations is a walking meditation: I simply put on my earbuds, play zen music, and walk in awareness of and connection to my surroundings. Talk about killing two birds with one stone (exercise + meditation)! You can meditate while painting, knitting, doing yardwork, or even while doing dishes. With a little creativity and the power of intention, the possibilities for active meditations are endless. Zone out and tune in at will.
As with any well-intentioned health practice (such as eating healthy and flossing), so with meditation. Even if you've fallen off the wagon, go ahead and jump back on that horse. Skip the guilt, shame, and regret, and make a beeline for the ommmm.
Melissa Divine is a psychic medium who meditates more than she flosses, but her dentist is okay with that. www.MelissaDivine.net