So, you’ve been practising mindfulness meditation for a little while now and you’re beginning to see the benefits. Perhaps you’ve been feeling less stressed. Maybe you’ve noticed your relationships at home or at work seem easier or you’re aware of an increased sense of well-being.
Then life happens (perhaps in small subtle ways, perhaps with a big bang) and events divert you from your mindfulness intentions. You might feel over-loaded with urgent things you need to deal with or too restless to concentrate. Perhaps your emotions overwhelm you when you sit or lie down to do your practice.
In this blog post, we’ll look at some of the common blocks to meditation practice and suggest some solutions to help you get back on track.
“I’m rushed off my feet! I get to the end of the day and find I’ve run out of time to do my practice!”
If you’re feeling under pressure, pause for a minute and take a look at what’s going on in your mind. Are you thinking “I must get all this work done” or “I don’t have time for meditating”? Try simply watching those thoughts for a few moments. Remind yourself (out loud if you like) that you don’t have to believe them—thoughts are not necessarily facts.
If your long list of uncompleted jobs is still making you feel anxious, sit still for three minutes and watch that anxiety.
- What does it feel like in your body?
- Where do you feel tension?
- What’s happening to your breath?
Simply noticing what’s happening in your body is a mindfulness practice in itself! You don’t have to try to change anything you’ve observed.
Top tip: You don’t need to do this for more than three minutes to start with. If you can be mindful for three minutes during a demanding day, that’s a huge success.
Need more help?
Try this three-minute breathing space meditation from our Mindfulness basics series. It’s the perfect practice for busy days.
“I can’t sit still—not even for three minutes!”
If you’re so restless you can’t keep still, even for a moment, try moving your body mindfully. This is a good way to bring yourself out of a restless or anxious mind and back into the present moment. You can bring mindfulness to any kind of movement—yoga, Tai Chi, gentle stretching or walking. Walking is a brilliant stress reliever. A good walk can put the world in perspective and soothe frayed nerves.
Need more help?
Try this mindful walking meditation from Mindfulness basics. See if you can focus your attention on what your body does and how it feels while you’re moving.
“When I start my practice, my feelings are overwhelming and I just want to stop!”
Practising mindfulness involves being open and accepting of whatever’s happening in your mind, even if that includes pain, discomfort or difficulties. This can be frightening, though, and there may be times when we’d rather not acknowledge the difficulties we’re facing. In moments like these, practising mindfulness offers you a way to ‘be with’ difficult emotions or feelings and to be more comfortable with your relationships to them.
Top tip: Combining your mindfulness practice with kindness and compassion towards yourself can help you face whatever’s tough in your life just now.
Need more help?
- Get started with this exercise from Dr. Kristin Neff: How would you treat a friend?
- Choose two or three of these 40 ways to practice kindness to yourself, from huffpost.com. Write them down and see if you can do at least one of them every day for a month.
“When I sit down to practice, I fall asleep!”
First, ask yourself whether you’re trying to practice at a time when what you need most is rest. Are you trying to meditate after a large meal or a hard day at work—or just before you fall into bed exhausted? Are you simply not getting enough sleep?
As best you can, try to choose a time of day when you’ll be feeling more alert—and if you’re not getting enough sleep, take some steps to try to resolve that.
Then, if you’re still falling asleep during your practice, try:
- Practising mindful movement instead of trying to sit still
- Meditating outdoors or next to an open window if it’s not too cold outside
- Keeping your eyes open while you practice
- And—last but not least—accepting that you need sleep and making the most of it!
…remember that, if you can be mindful for just three minutes during a demanding day, that’s a huge success!
Plus, check out these useful mindfulness pebbles