Tips for Overcoming Meditation Problems
Meditation is like any practice. It comes easy to some but not to everyone. Just like you would need to practice a sport in order to master it, meditation also needs to be practiced and perfected before it becomes second nature.
At Totally Meditation we often see people who have difficulties learning meditation for sleep (or meditation in general). Here are some of the common problems with tips for overcoming them:
1. Not being able to lie still:
If your mind is racing with thoughts, lying still in bed may be the farthest thing from your mind. You might feel more like pacing the room or running up and down the stairs instead to tire yourself out. If being restless is keeping you from your sleep meditation, break being still into bite sized chunks of time instead. Keep your first few sessions of meditation short and don’t put pressure on yourself to meditate the “right” way or to accomplish anything profound during the meditation. You don’t need to have a “lightbulb” moment, or solve all your day’s problems that instant. You just need to be able to calm and still your mind so you can relax and get some sleep.
2. Being afraid of where your mind might go while you meditate:
It’s possible that either subconsciously or consciously you are afraid that meditating will bring up negative emotions or unpleasant thoughts. To combat this, rather than fearing these thoughts and emotions, try practicing non-judgement. See the thoughts as neither good nor bad, they are just thoughts, being objective about them helps to neutralize the emotions that you may normally attach to the thought.
One technique you can use is to visualize the thoughts as bubbles getting smaller and smaller until they are gone. By facing the fear of the “what-ifs” you can conquer them.
3. Too much to think about:
Writing the thoughts down before you meditate can help. Write them down on paper so your mind doesn’t feel it has to keep repeating them. After you have written out a short list of the things that are going around in your mind, tell yourself “I can look at this tomorrow when I am not tired and can think more clearly”. In essence this gives you permission to take a break from them.
4. Afraid of loosing track of time:
If you are concerned about falling into a time warp of either spending too much or too little time, handle that concern by setting a quiet timer to remind you when it’s time to come back to the real world. Doing so will give you control over how long you are “gone” and give you one less thing to think about 🙂
5. A secret disbelief that meditation will work for you:
You may have told yourself that meditation just isn’t for you because you are too restless or because you’ve heard others say it didn’t work for them so you wonder if it will work for you, and so on. Rather than letting these questioning thoughts run the show, examine the reasoning behind them. Why do you think it might not work? Have you given it a chance? (Remember practice makes “perfect”.)
Allowing yourself the opportunity to form an unbiased opinion about the practice enables you to change your perspective about meditation, and open up to it’s benefits. You’ll also allow yourself to be open to an important concept of meditation: to accept what you don’t know, what you can’t control, or don’t understand.
So the next time you find yourself struggling when you’d rather be sleeping, remember that struggle can be overcome as long as you understand it.
To your inner peace – Anna