Common Barriers

Over the past 9 months, I have been developing an Introduction to Meditation E-course and in doing so, I have had the opportunity to revisit some of the challenges we face when we come to practice meditation.   

It seems that even when we make a conscious decision to want to learn to meditate and to practice on a regular basis, in our daily lives, we are often confronted by seemingly good reasons not to practice.

We can persuade ourselves that we will come to the practice later, but not just now. There is always a snack to be had, an essay to write, an email to answer or a phone call to be made. When we start out, prioritising the practice of meditation is a challenge, even for many of those who have been practicing for years. So what are the common barriers we can expect to confront and most importantly, how can we overcome them?

“I Don’t Have Time to Practice”

One of the most common barriers is the feeling that we just don’t have time to practice. However, when we decide to take just a few minutes to still our bodies and engage in the meditative process, we can often feel a sense of calm that can impact on how we make decisions in the hours to come. Feeling the impact of even short practices can inspire us to take that valuable time. Taking a pause from the rush of the day may just help us to use time more efficiently and make better decisions. Tip: Perhaps set a daily reminder on your phone to prompt you to take a few minutes for yourself to meditate?

“I Can’t Sit Still Enough to Practice”

Often, when we sit to meditate, we feel incapable of sitting still or simply not fidgeting, during the practice. When this happens, rather than criticise ourselves, we can just notice how our bodies react to being asked to be still, even for just a few minutes. During the practice, if you need to move, adjust or fidget, that’s just fine – go ahead and adjust your position. Meditation is a process that develops over time and so we can gently notice the feelings and desire to shift, fidget or itch. We then carry on, with kindness to ourselves. Advice: Notice the desire to move, fidget if you need to, carry on, with kindness.

“It Sounds Boring”

Practicing meditation may sound boring. Yet for many, engaging in the practice of meditation can be a relief from the stress of daily life. It is a moment for yourself when you are not obligated to be somebody else, or do something for someone else. For many, this can feel both liberating and energising.

“My Mind Is Zipping Around When I Meditate”

We know that the average person has between 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day. Often when we meditate, we have the experience of being unable to calm or slow the speed at which our thoughts move around. We can feel as though there is no respite from the thinking brain. If this is our experience, we notice it. We let the mind run fast. However, if we still choose to sit for a while, it will gently start to slow down. Steadily, we can become more aware of the thoughts we are actually having, rather than simply feeling overwhelmed by the busyness of the day. The important thing is to practice, whether we like the practice or not, as this way, the benefits will start to come. Tip: We are not trying to clear the mind or stop the mind. We are merely observing where the mind and watching how the mind may still itself with practice.



Gill Higgins