Here’s part 2 in our Six Step program to making meditation a habit in your life! This time we will cover how to make it easier to just do it, by reducing the obstacles.
Managing to meditate daily is about building a habit of doing it every day – I’ll talk about how to create the habit in Step 4. But there are some obvious barriers that might be in the way of you making it a habit so it would be good to address these first. So let’s talk about these now.
I’ve found the biggest challenge most people face is sitting down to meditate in the first place. Once they get to the cushion or chair, they manage to do some sort of a session. Starting seems to be the hardest part.
What might be stopping you from sitting down to meditate?
Well people can name a number of different barriers that stopped them – they were too tired, too stressed from work, friends dropped by, the dog was sick, they had a lot on etc.
But to get it down to a deeper level, here are some of the main barriers I have noticed that get in the way.
1. Time – “I don’t have enough time to fit in meditation.”
This is the most common obstacle since most people are pretty busy with work, family and life.
Tip 1– Don’t be too ambitious – just have a manageable target if you are very busy, eg 10 minutes per day. You can build up to more over time.
Tip 2 – Schedule it in – write meditation into your calendar or diary at a time that will work for you (with the least obstacles). Use your phone reminder or alarm to remind you to do it at that time.
Tip 3 – Can you cut down on time used for less beneficial activities such as watching TV, reading the paper or looking at Facebook? Just 10 minutes of TV or FB that you cut out each day can be used for meditation – with much greater benefits gained!
2. Fear of discomfort or failure – “I won’t be good enough at meditating.”
This is a bit of a subconscious issue we are not always aware of. Some people don’t meditate because when they do sit down, all the thoughts running through their mind make them think that they are doing a bad job! This sense of “not good enough” comes from having unrealistic expectations about meditating.
Tip: remember that we are NOT trying to empty our mind and have no thoughts (impossible unless we are dead)! We are aiming to watch the thoughts come and go and spend more time watching the breath so that the thoughts become less frequent and less powerful. Expect there to be thoughts and that some sessions you’ll have a busier mind. It doesn’t matter what it’s like – just sitting to meditate is good enough (the benefits accrue over time regardless).
We will talk more about being more compassionate to yourself in the next blog!
3. Fear of what others think – “Everyone else will think I’m weird”.
Some people find it hard living with family or friends who don’t understand why they want to meditate and might ridicule them or hinder them from doing it. Or maybe your family and friends don’t do this, but you’re still a bit shy about meditating.
Tip: If this is you, have an open chat with your family or housemates and explain why you need and want to do it. Get their feedback (maybe they actually think it’s fantastic!). Then agree to some rules about not being disturbed and about being supported to do it each day.
In our busy lives it’s easy to forget to meditate, especially when we are starting out.
Tip 1: As suggested, use your mobile phone alarm to remind you each day to do it (preferably at the same time each day).
Tip 2: Stick a big note above your mirror/desk/kettle etc reminding you to do it.
There might be other barriers I haven’t totally covered here – let me know if you’ve thought of any others and I will try and address them.
ACTION STEP: Keep a journal for at least 7 days of what helped or hindered you from meditating (and how much you actually meditated). I’ve provided you with a handy journal you can use: MEDITATION-HABIT-JOURNAL-template (it’s in Word so you can fill it out on your computer or print it). After a week you can review the journal and see what were the main barriers stopping you from sitting down to meditate and look at how to address them (or do more of what did help you to sit down!).