I have struggled with meditation most of my life. Over a period of 15 years, I bought meditation CDs, attended meditation classes, and read books on meditation, but still couldn’t incorporate it into my daily life. Meditation CDs usually make me sleepy and classes and books make me feel like a failure! In fact, my first meditation was quite painful and I always felt like I was too busy to meditate.
The sad truth is that while most of us are aware of the benefits of meditation, very few of us have a regular meditation practice. There are many obstacles to overcome to incorporate meditation into our daily lives. I overcame those obstacles and have been meditating daily for two years, as well as meditating periodically throughout the day! Through meditation I have experienced more peace and joy in my life, become less reactive and less stressed and have more energy and creativity! And I know that you too can experience these benefits!
But first, I think it’s important to define what meditation is. Many of us have misconceptions about meditation. The most common misconception is that meditation is about getting rid of thought! That would set anyone up for failure! Meditation, rather, is about becoming the watcher of thought rather than the reactor of thought.
Meditation, pure and simple, is being fully present in the moment! In this meditative state you are aware of the truth of who you are beyond your body and mind.
Have you ever been in awe of a beautiful sunset? So much that you forgot what happened 5 minutes ago and you weren’t thinking about the future? Were you completely in the moment and did you have this feeling of aliveness within you? Well, that’s meditation!
So now that we know what meditation is, how do we incorporate it into our daily lives? I knew the reasons I had struggled with for years before developing a regular meditation practice, but I was curious to see if others had the same reasons, so I conducted an international survey on the biggest obstacles to meditation and received over 400 responses. of people. in 46 different countries. Below are the SIX biggest obstacles to meditation and how you can overcome them!
Obstacle #1: Not having enough time
The biggest obstacle people face in developing a regular meditation practice is TIME. We don’t have enough time to meditate! (Interestingly, this wasn’t just an “American” phenomenon. People all over the world mentioned not having enough time to meditate.)
However, there are 4 simple ways to incorporate meditation into your life without taking ANY time out of your current schedule!
First, I invite you to turn your waiting time into meditation time.
The average person waits 45 to 60 minutes a day. We wait for appointments, we wait in traffic, we wait in line at the supermarket, and we wait on hold on the phone. However, those precious “waiting times” can be turned into meditation times.
So the next time you’re waiting for an appointment, take a moment to notice your breath. Or the next time you’re in line at the grocery store, take a moment to smile on the inside.
Second, make a daily activity your meditation. You can incorporate meditation into any of these daily activities:
*brushing your teeth
*empty the dishwasher
*folding clothes, ironing
As you brush your teeth, pay attention to your breathing. Or notice the vitality in your hands and mouth. As you empty the dishwasher, feel the vitality in your hand as you put away each dish.
Third, make your dog or cat your meditation! Have you ever noticed when walking your dog how your dog is completely in the moment, observing his surroundings? Well, you can join your dog in this blissful state. When walking the dog, he notices the vitality in his feet with each step. Observe the vibrancy of the trees, the birds, your surroundings. As you pet the cat, notice the softness of the fur. Be fully present with your dog or cat!
Four, meditate while you drive! Now of course, DO NOT close your eyes and meditate while driving. But you can be fully present while driving, with your eyes open. While driving, notice the vitality in your hands as you touch the steering wheel. Or at a stop sign or in traffic, watch your breath.
These are simple ways that you can incorporate meditation into your daily life without taking ANY time out of your current schedule. If we all did these simple things, we would have a daily meditation practice!
Obstacle #2: Lack of self-discipline
The second biggest obstacle people face in incorporating meditation into their daily lives is a lack of self-discipline! Meditation requires discipline. I know many of us start out with great intentions to meditate daily or exercise daily and can do it for a couple of weeks but then lack the discipline to continue.
This is why life coaches, personal trainers and other professions have been created! To hold us accountable and stay focused!
So if you lack self-discipline, find a meditation partner! Ask your spouse, partner, friend, or co-worker to join you in incorporating meditation into your daily life. Hold each other accountable.
Or even if you can’t find someone who wants to meditate with you, tell your spouse/friend/partner/co-worker your intention to meditate daily and ask them to contact you and ask how you’re doing.
Just as an exercise partner is beneficial and productive, a meditation partner can be too!
Obstacle #3: Not having the right place or space to meditate
The third biggest hurdle people mentioned is NOT having the right place or space to meditate! This is a “perceived obstacle.” You can literally meditate anywhere; while driving a car or walking through a crowded mall.
People often use not having a special place or a specific area as an excuse for NOT meditating. If we continually wait for the right circumstances to meditate, we will never meditate.
I give people a meditation task: meditate in a public place! They can walk through the wall and notice people and places, while watching their breath or noticing the vitality in their feet.
Obstacle #4: Falling asleep
The fourth most common hindrance to meditation is falling asleep. And yet, many meditation CDs say it’s okay if you fall asleep because you’re still getting the benefits of meditation… The only benefit you’re getting is peaceful sleep! And yet, that is also a benefit! Meditation is awareness. It is being fully present in the moment. When you are asleep, you are asleep, not meditating.
Here are some tips if you fall asleep while meditating:
* Do not meditate at night before going to bed. Very often, many of us want to meditate daily, but we don’t think about it until we are in bed or getting ready for sleep and then we try to meditate. Of course we will fall asleep.
*Try to meditate in the morning or at noon when you are alert.
* Meditate in small increments throughout the day. Again, watch your breath for a couple of minutes while you brush your teeth or take a shower.
Pitfall #5: Too many distractions
The fifth most common complaint from people is that there are too many distractions to meditate. However, distractions don’t have to be distractions.
For example, during one of my meditations, my cat Vinnie came up to me and started meowing. He wouldn’t stop either. He wanted my attention. Now, for most people, this would be a distraction and a reason to stop meditating. Instead, I opened my eyes, sat on the floor with him, and stroked him while feeling my breath. I incorporated my cat into my meditation. Instead of allowing him to become a distraction, he became my meditation!
If you are meditating and a distraction occurs. Just notice. Allow it to be. If it is something that needs your attention, attend to what is necessary, while continuing to watch your breath!
Obstacle #6: Not knowing how to meditate
Many people feel that they do not know how to meditate. We make meditation more complicated than it really is! Again, meditation is about being present in the moment. It really is all about finding what works for you!
Again, you can incorporate meditation into your life without taking time out of your schedule. Your life can become a meditation. It’s those moments throughout the day when we are fully present in the moment that matter. And through meditation, we discover the joy of being what we are!