Meditation is simply a practice of developing inner awareness toward our experiences. It can be easy in theory, but difficult in practice.
Many people try meditating once or twice, but never develop a steady routine. A big part of this is beginners often get discouraged by common problems that they experience when first starting out.
There are 3 specific problems that I see people struggle with all of the time in meditation. This article is going to describe each one of these, then offer advice and guidelines on how to help you overcome these issues.
“I’m Easily Distracted”
One of the first types of meditation people usually try is a breathing meditation, where the main goal is to focus all of our awareness on the sensations of our breathing.
The problem is that whenever people find themselves being distracted away from their breathing (our focus and thoughts drifting to other things), then they feel like they fail at meditation or they aren’t good at it.
However, the whole point of beginning meditation is to first become more aware of just how distracted our minds can be.
That’s why you are practicing meditation, so that you are able to better direct your awareness toward your object of focus. Getting distracted a lot when you first start out should be expected.
Whenever you find yourself distracted during a meditation, just make a mental note of your distraction. Say to yourself in a non-judgmental tone, “I got distracted,” and then re-focus your awareness back toward your object of meditation.
As you continue practicing, you’ll become less and less distracted. It’ll still happen every now and then – no one is perfect – but the more aware you are of your distractions, the easier it becomes to overcome them.
“I Get Tired And Fall Asleep”
Another common problem when people first start meditating is that they find themselves quickly becoming bored and tired, and sometimes even falling asleep.
So instead of tuning into their awareness, many start tuning out, dozing off, or daydreaming – which isn’t the type of consciousness normally associated with meditation.
Here are some valuable tips to help avoid falling asleep while meditating:
- Try meditating in the morning after a good night’s sleep.
- Try meditating in a more stimulating environment (beach, park, nature). For some people, meditating at home might be too dull or boring.
- Try meditating with your eyes open (you can still focus on your breathing with your eyes closed). Closing our eyes is often associated with falling asleep, so this is one way to avoid that when first starting out.
- Try meditating on the sensations of being tired and falling asleep. Use your tiredness as an object of focus.
- Try meditating on a physical activity, such as walking. This will help keep both your body and mind awake while developing your awareness.
Different things will work differently for different people, be willing to try out new things in your meditation practice to discover what works best for you.
“Am I Meditating?”
Often while meditating we begin to ask ourselves, “Am I meditating?” or “Is this meditation?”
Beginners naturally don’t know what meditation is like, so anytime they experience a new sensation they wonder if it means they are being successful or not; it’s hard for someone to understand a completely subjective experience without first experiencing it themselves.
To overcome this problem, try to consider all of your experience a part of your meditation. In fact, the answer to the question “Am I meditating?” is always a “yes,” because the question itself is introspective and reflective.
As long as you are paying attention to your experiences – whether they be thoughts, emotions, or behaviors – then you are doing a type of meditation.
This also means that every meditation is likely to be a little different from the last, so don’t get too attached to any single experience you have. Yes, you were meditating; but no, that’s not what meditation is going to be like every time: just keep practicing.
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