Do you ever feel as if you’ve flunked meditation?
I have tried meditation on and off for twenty years, and I’ve never been able to stick with it. Everyone I know who meditates swears by it and tells me they couldn’t get through a day without it. It seemed like one more thing I had to get done. I have heard about all the benefits of meditation – clearer mind, increased focus, better sleep, and better health and happiness.
Apparently, brains do not cooperate when meditation is sprung on them. A brain’s job is to think, and whenever I try to meditate my brain completely overshoots the mark. I’m thinking about someone I went to camp with, and if I should switch cat food brands. I can have completely absorbing daydreams, all while I’m trying not to get distracted from my breathing. That’s when I get discouraged, certain that this is not happening to meditation professionals. It turns out that it does happen to meditation pros, just not as often as it did when they began. One such person said he fails at meditating 10% of the time.
Here are some tips I gathered:
- Getting started is the hardest part.
- Expect some days will be more challenging than others.
- Try to give meditation a good amount of time and don’t quit because you cannot stay focused.
- If thoughts keep interrupting, an expert advises to process all of them as they arise.
- Don’t let meditation become a task that has to fit into your calendar (it’s supposed relieve stress, not cause it).
- Think about it as a way to relax your brain that spends most of its waking hours being overloaded.
- Start with short sessions of meditation – short times will still help you become more focused and less anxious.
- It is normal to feel bored during meditation.
- You do not need to sit crossed legged on a cushion on the floor.
Here is some advice from tinybuddha.com on how to begin:
Try this now: Set a timer for sixty seconds. Sit tall and put your attention on your in-breath and your out-breath. Feel it at the nose, chest, or belly, whatever is most accessible to you. When your mind wanders, label it “thinking,” and come back to your breath until the timer rings.
You did it! Practice diligently. Practice with persistence. Accept that your human mind that wanders. It’s an essential part of the learning.
Keep practicing and keep “failing.” You will still benefit.
Here are three different popular meditation apps that might be a good way to start:
My go-to app is Headspace. It has a 10-minute guided meditation, and I love Andy’s (a former Buddhist monk and co-founder of the app) Australian accent. The app is known for its friendly ‘beginner’ design. Within the meditation menu, it has sub- categories of Sleep, Move, and Focus. The sleep meditations are popular. The app costs $69.99 a year or $5.83 a month. It offers a free trial. It is available for Android and iOS.
Many people recommend Calm, but it helps if you already have some meditation experience. You can create the meditation that suits you best, both guided and unguided. There are many meditation topics to explore. It offers breathwork practices to address anxiety. It costs $69.99 a year or $5.83 a month. It also offers a lifetime subscription of $399.99.
The Healthy Minds, available for both Android and iOS, is a free, straightforward, simple app that focuses on four ideas – Awareness, Connection, Insight and Purpose. Its content is more user-friendly than many other similar apps. There are two teachers to choose between, and you can adjust your course length in five-minute increments. You can track your progress.