Like anything else you do for the first time, you’ll find that practicing meditation will give you some obstacles that you’re going to have to learn to deal with. One of the first obstacles that you may encounter will be your mind.
Like most people, your mind is constantly working, chattering away with hundreds of things for you to think about. There’s nothing wrong with you for having such a busy mind – it’s so common that meditators call it “monkey mind”. But with monkey mind so chattery it can be difficult to focus.
It can be helpful to understand why your mind is so chattery and meditation is difficult
There are four main reasons that you find it difficult to quiet your mind and focus on something as simple as your breathing.
1. You’re overloaded with stuff that you have to get done.
Both your work and home life can press in on you.
2. There’s too much distraction going on in the background that calls your attention away.
To get rid of distraction, you need to find a place that doesn’t have it or that limits it to background noise that you can tune out. For example, it’s harder to tune out when your dog is in the same room barking like mad than it is if your neighbor is mowing his grass.
3. Stress or trauma.
It’s really hard to focus when stress hormones are running around your body!
Try this mental exercise before you meditate: Imagine opening a large box and tucking the trauma or stress into it and close the lid. Tell yourself that when you’re done meditating, you’ll reexamine the issue.
Stress, anxiety and worrying can be dealt with by practicing some deep breathing.
This is also known as mindful breathing and by concentrating on releasing the stress or emotions from your body before you begin to meditate, you can calm the mind.
4. Anxiety, fear or worrying.
Again, stress hormones are making your old lizard brain more active.
When stress hormones are active they tend to make you feel jumpy, and your mind will be busy problem solving, telling you what you have to get done. It’ll tell you that you don’t have time to practice meditation because you need to stay on the go.
What you can do is tell yourself that meditation doesn’t take that long and that as soon as you’re done, you’ll pick right back up with what you need to get done.
Using ‘Wasted’ Time
With my leaky brain thing earlier this year, I spent a LOT of time in waiting rooms to see one or another medical specialist.
I’m convinced that every medical person on the planet has a time scheduling problem – so I know you’ve spent time in a waiting room somewhere. You can practice simple breathing exercises while you’re waiting.
Or, you can do mindful breathing when you’re doing household chores that don’t need a lot of focus.
Make a New Habit
It takes 21 days to make or break a habit – 21 days for your brain to build a new neural pathway that will help you make your daily meditation easy to just do.
So give yourself permission to stick with it for 21 days.
At the end of three weeks, meditating will have become a habit you’ll look forward to and do easily!
It might also be helpful for you to start out with some guidance from a Master. I’ve personally used Sharon Slazberg’s book and CD.