When I first began my journey on the spiritual path, I really wanted to master the art of meditation, but the biggest reason I couldn't get it down ended up being my mind
Everytime I wanted to try again, I'd give up because, in my mind, all the stars weren't aligned for me to have a good session. It took so much time and stress for me to even come up with a daily meditation plan, that I thought, 'this isn't even worth it. I'm putting more work on myself when what I really want to do is relax at the end of my day. This isn't relaxing, this is work!'
Then, I was lead to start yet again. My intuition told me that this time there won't be any expectations of what the outcome was supposed to look like. I knew that it wouldn't be easy because I still remembered how hard it was before, but I was intent on sticking with it.
I took the 3 main myths I used as excuses in my past efforts to succeed in meditation and literally paid them no mind until the realization came that I and every other person in the world has it in them to meditate. I learned that meditation is a natural part of our Souls and it's there for us to call upon in our times of need because when we set our intention to ground ourselves and be at peace, it's incredibly easy to master. It is a choice we make and the rest follows.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of benefits to meditating; however, a great majority of us rely on time-worn myths to not give meditation a try.
I used to be one of those people. I stressed over not having enough time, or patience, or ability to quiet my mind; but the truth I finally found was that meditation didn't require any of those things. In reality, meditation is a very easy practice that any of us is capable of because it is an inherent, natural part of our Souls. It is already there inside of you, waiting to be awakened. It is an act of coming to oneness, grounding yourself and just being present in the moment that you're currently living.
Here, I debunk the 3 most common obstacles people face when thinking about beginning their meditation journey.
1. I don't have time
We're all stuck in the belief that meditation has to take a long time. We envision Buddha sitting in the Lotus Pose all day, meditating. In reality, meditation doesn't have to take long at all. You can meditate for as little as 60 seconds by simply concentrating on your breath. Breathe in through your nose for the count of 5, hold it for a count of 5, then breathe out through your mouth for the count of 5. Repeat 3 times. That's a total of 45 seconds that takes you to a place of quiet, calm and inner peace.
If you do have the time or are a little more advanced in your practice, you can meditate for 30, 45, or 60 minutes at a time; but, when you're just beginning, give yourself a break and do it for only a few minutes. Starting slow will build your confidence in yourself and it will show you that you don't have to take a huge chunk of time out of your day to meditate. Just like with exercise, doing short meditations at first will also build your endurance to stay in the present moment in the future.
2. I get distracted
We all do! We're human, it's only natural for our minds to wonder and for thoughts to enter our minds. The trick is to not entertain those distractions and thoughts by allowing them to evolve into stories. Any time these interruptions occur, they should be acknowledged and observed, but not absorbed. Welcome in the thought that tells you there's a load of laundry to be done or dishes to be put away, but don't dwell on it and let it go. Like with everything else, letting go of the distractions gets easier with practice; and, after a week or so of meditating, you will be able to simply know a thought just entered your mind and go right back to focusing on your breath. In fact, that is the method I use to not relish in thoughts: focus on my breath.
I have many distractions in my life, too, but still manage to reap benefits of meditation. I like to meditate in the mornings when the house is still asleep and no one will "distract" me from the task at hand. Well, there are those times when I get out of bed, the dogs will get up, which gets my partner up, and all I hear is the hustle and bustle of the day starting. In the past, I would just give up. I'd say, 'see? It's not feasible for you to meditate because the entire house gets up and you have no peace and quiet." While the conditions aren't perfect for a really relaxing experience, I turn up the volume on my ear buds and do my very best to ignore what is going on around me. Sometimes, my dog will join me while I sit in meditation. He can sense the high vibration produced by a meditative practice, so he'll come and lay down in my lap, put his head down on my thigh and go to sleep. I've come to know that nothing in life is absolutely perfect. As Dr. Wayne Dyer says, 'nature is not a straight line, it's a crooked line,' we can't expect to control each situation and have the outcome that we dreamed up, so I take the distractions as they come and just make the best of it. At the end of the meditation, I still end up feeling much better than I did before or if I wouldn't have meditated at all.
3. I'm not patient enough
This is a biggie I get from most people when I suggest they should meditate: I don't have the patience. I think this myth goes hand in hand with the one about the availability of time in that you don't have to be overly patient to sit quietly in a comfortable position and just listen to your own breath! The one thing that I have learned from meditating is that it has helped me tremendously in becoming a much more patient person. I began in the same way that all beginners do: with little time, perceived inability to ignore distractions and the attitude of impatience. I started meditating because I felt like my emotions were all over the place, I was stressed and overwhelmed in most situations and suffered with anxiety of the unknown.
Meditation has taught me that I don't have to be in a dark room by myself, listening to music in order to quiet my mind and be still. I am now able to be at a train station or a business office and tell myself to concentrate on my breath. Just breathe in for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds...
And, suddenly, I feel more at ease, not ready to blow my top, like I'm back in my little protective bubble. The point is, you don't have to be a patient person to meditate, just like you don't have to be an outgoing or an introverted person to do it. Anyone can do it as long as you enter into it with no expectations and just be.
I think many of us create illusions in our minds of what things and events should look like and that goes for meditations, too: it takes lots of time, you must be un-interrupted, there can be no noise, it should be fun, I need to be a better person spiritually in order to do it right, my mind wonders while everyone else's is concentrating.
The most wonderful thing about the practice is that you can do whatever you want, for however you want. You can meditate in the kitchen while making dinner, as long as your mind is focused on cooking the meal. You can do it around people by instructing yourself to listen to your breath. You can listen to guided meditations on apps such as www.insighttimer.com, they will help you to be more mindful of the present moment.