As I work with people to learn mindfulness, I hear the same roadblocks surface repeatedly. Luckily, they are simple to overcome. Take a look at the following Roadblocks and solutions:
1. “I can’t empty my mind.”
You don’t have to! That might be the best news you hear all day. We aren’t monks on a mountain, dedicating 10 hours a day to mindful contemplation. Incidentally, I’d love to ask such a monk if he is able to truly clear his mind. We are busy people with a lot happening. What you need to ask to know if your meditation is “successful” is whether your mind slowed down at all. Did you feel a little more relaxed? If so, you’re going in the right direction. Meditation is about training your mind to slow, to be less caught up in stress. And it’s okay to use music or a guiding voice to meditate rather than silence – silent meditation is advanced stuff! Meditation is a skill that you build overtime. Look for progress and keep going. That brings me to the next road block:
2. “I’m doing it wrong!”
This is your inner perfectionist talking. There are many ways to practice mindfulness and meditation. The closest you can get to doing it wrong is by worrying about doing it wrong! Truly. It is by criticizing yourself that you move away from the mindful state which is part of any meditation. Mindfulness is nonjudgmental focus in the present. When your mind wanders, practice being kind to yourself, just being okay with it and refocusing on the present. When you catch yourself worrying about doing it wrong, gently remind yourself “it’s okay to do it wrong,” and your judgment will drop. The fact of not judging yourself will help you relax more and improve your practice.
3. “I don’t have time.”
Are you sure? This I would ask with a highly skeptical raised brow. Yes, we are very busy and there may be a ton going on in your life that I’m not aware of. Have you ever been held up in traffic an extra 3-5 minutes? If so, you have time. There are creative ways to fit a mindfulness or meditation practice somewhere in your life. If you can’t find those few minutes after you wake up or before bed, it may be as simple as staying in your car 3 minutes after work before going home. Close your eyes, play music or a meditation script, and notice your breath, notice your body, notice being okay in the moment. Done! A mindfulness or meditation practice can be as simple as this and still be a powerful influence in your life.
Practice makes Progress
Remember, whether it’s feeling like you need to do it “right” or feeling guilty because you didn’t reach your goal to meditate for just 5 minutes a day, look at progress. If you planned to meditate daily and you only remembered 3 times in the past week, that’s 3 times more than before you started. Progress! Keep going! If you feel stuck, think to where you started. Remember to look for improvement. Then keep going. Regular practice is far more powerful than a single instant of success. Do the work – having a balanced mind is well worth the effort.