“Don’t hate, meditate!”
Easier said than done. When you first get to the mat after a tough day at work, sitting still for a second can be a challenge, let alone a full five minutes. All of the worst parts of the day come flooding back on replay, getting you more and more riled up. Isn’t yoga and meditation supposed to be relaxing?!
If you hate meditation, the chances are that you’ve been sold an image that just isn’t true. You know the one. The monk sitting atop a mountain in the Himalayas, a gentle smile crossing his lips as he enjoys eternal Nirvana.
Here’s the truth. Meditation isn’t easy! We spend so much of our time being busy that stopping can be more difficult than bulldozing ahead with life’s daily tasks. It can be frustrating, disappointing, or even upsetting to take a minute and look inside. Here are a few common struggles with meditation that even seasoned pros will face regularly.
You can’t get comfortable
Everyone else in the class seems to be sitting stock still in a cross-legged position. Your foot is falling asleep. But you must remain still like the teacher said. You desperately try to ignore the tingling in your foot, but it’s impossible. You shift position, only to find that the meditation time is over and you are less zen than when you started.
Solution: Find what’s comfortable for you. If sitting crossed-legged doesn’t work for you, lie down or sit on a block. It’s your body after all – you know what it likes best!
You can’t clear your mind, no matter how hard you try
Weirdly, trying to meditate makes it a million times harder. Don’t bother trying to clear your mind – you will never be able to switch off your brain completely, and that’s totally normal. What you can practise is noticing the thoughts you have, while trying not to get to involved in them. Think “Ah, a thought about pizza! Ooh look, another one about bills…” rather than “Crap, I’m thinking about pizza and I need to watch my weight! Oh my god, how will I pay those bills I’m thinking about?”
Solution: Forget about emptying your mind. Just notice what you’re thinking.
You get really annoyed with how much time you’re wasting doing nothing
If you are annoyed at wasting time in meditation, you’re probably annoyed at wasting time in another area of your life. Meditation has a funny way of unearthing all the feelings we block out at other times of the day, so pay attention (even if it’s pissing you off). Once you’re aware of it, you can start to notice the other thoughts that crop up at the same time. When you get angry, do thoughts of work fill your head? Thoughts of a friend who crossed you?
Solution: Notice the other thoughts that pop up in your head when you’re feeling rushed. No need to do anything about them. Just notice.
You think guided meditation is waaaaay too out there
The chakras aren’t for everyone, so sitting through a ten minute guided meditation that takes you from root to crown can be irritating. If you don’t feel spiritual, or you have a spiritual practice that doesn’t align with traditional yoga, you don’t have to force yourself into the same box just because the teacher said so.
Solution: Choose classes with less guided meditation, or just zone out and meditate on your own cool stuff.
Meditation is different for everyone. No one can tell you whether you’re doing it right or wrong because there is no right or wrong. If you can find just one minute a day to get comfortable and see what’s going on inside, you’re meditating. And hopefully not hating.