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Top 10 Challenges and what You can Do
Have you tried meditation and experienced some difficulties? Did you get bored, sleepy, restless or annoyed? These are all common experiences, especially for beginners, but if we persevere, we will learn how to overcome these difficulties. Read this article for tips on how to overcome 10 common meditation challenges.
Meditation is a fairly straightforward process, much more so than most people realize, but like anything that is worth doing, it does come with its fair share of difficulties. Meditation challenges are common for beginner meditators, but advanced practitioners face problems as well. It is important to understand that every challenge is an opportunity to learn and improve your practice.
Download the free meditation starter pack to learn how to meditate like a pro. You’ll get a video, a guided meditation, a printout and a calendar checklist.
When we start meditating, we are not sure exactly what we are doing, but for some reason, beginners tend to have incredibly high expectations.
Meditation takes time to learn and this is the beauty of it, because every time you practice, you learn more and more. Over months and years, your sense of peace and joy expand and your life begins to transform. If you could master it first time, there would be no joy in the practice, nothing to learn, and nowhere to grow.
In meditation, we take steps forward and steps backward, but over time, we make great progress, which completely shifts the direction of our lives.
Pain is common in meditation because we have to hold our body in a way in which it is not accustomed to sitting. We may feel aches, pains or tension, but over time we find that it becomes more comfortable. Itches can also arise during meditation and distract us from our practice.
Ideally, we want to sit perfectly still in meditation because the stiller the body, the stiller the mind. We should address discomfort of any kind so we can eventually sit still in a comfortable position.
As a beginner, you can’t immediately stop your mind from thinking. But don’t worry! Over time, it will become easier. Even for advanced meditators, on some days it takes time for the mind to slow down.
The misconception that you have to stop thinking to meditate well is one of the biggest reasons people give up. In meditation, you’ll notice that your mind is busy. It is not busier than usual, but because you are meditating, you are now able to see how busy your mind is. That is a success.
Every time you notice the mind wandering and bring your attention back to the breath, you make progress. Think of it as a bicep curl or a bench press for the mind.
As you meditate, there may be a kind of sports commentator analyzing every detail of your practice. “This is not going well today…I should have done more to prepare… this is not right…Oh my legs are hurting now…it doesn’t seem to be working at all.”
If we talk to ourselves in this negative way, we may become frustrated, and meditation will lose its joy.
At other times, the voice may be subtler and more positive, and it whispers. “This is going well…I am doing this right now…this is great….I feel relaxed now.”
These positive thoughts are certainly a step in the right direction, but ultimately, we want to cultivate a deeper state of peace and silence beyond the mental noise of thinking and judging our practice.
In meditation, we need to sit still for an extended period of time, essentially doing nothing. It can come as a bit of a shock to the system. In the modern world, we hurry around from one task to the next, a constant stream of thoughts gushing through our minds. Sitting to meditate is quite different from what we are accustomed to.
You may find that you become bored whilst meditating, but this is only because we are so used to being busy. Meditation can take us to a beautiful place of stillness, but at the beginning, boredom can arise. This is normal, and it will get better with time.
Feeling drowsy is also common in meditation, but there are some tricks we can use to combat this. Meditation puts your mind in a relaxed state so naturally people tend to feel sleepy and may even drift off.
If you find that you are drowsy, you will not have the clarity and alertness necessary for good practice. Many people are more tired than they realize, hyped up on coffee and information, so often they actually do need to sleep. If that is the case, you can always take a nap and meditate later on.
Whilst meditation brings us many states of deep peace, it can also bring out some difficult emotions: anger, sadness and frustration to name a few. These emotions are being released, coming from deep down below the surface so that we can let them go. Meditation helps us overcome these painful emotions.
Negative emotions are most damaging to us when they are subconscious. If we can notice them with the conscious mind, they become weaker and weaker until they dissolve. This is why meditation is so powerful: it dissolves old patterns of anger and pain in the light of awareness.
There will be times when you do not want to sit down to meditate. On some days, you feel tired or moody or sad. Sometimes, you might be losing motivation because you are having a problem with your meditation practice. Or perhaps your ego is afraid of the changes that are coming about.
We can make so many excuses: we can’t do it today because we are too busy, we are having a “bad week,” and we’ll get back to it next week. But consistency is paramount in meditation so we must try to find a way to practice even when we don’t feel like it.
Sometimes we might feel like nothing is happening in meditation, like we are wasting our time. But meditation is a marathon, not a sprint. It is the long game. You will notice some changes in your life near the beginning, but often changes happen over the course of months and years, so it can be hard to notice them.
It’s like when you have kids. You hardly notice them growing because you see them every day. But then one day you bring them to meet old friends and they say, “Oh my goodness, look how much they have grown.”
Well it is the same way with meditation: sometimes you are too close to the game to get a fair view. Then one day, someone will mention how different, how happy, or how peaceful you seem.
You may find that, whilst meditating, you feel sexual desire and begin to imagine sexual experiences. Of course, this is a strong energy and a difficult one to ignore. But we want to learn to control these urges and watch the sensations without acting upon them.
This teaches us restraint and self-discipline, both of which are very important in meditation and in life. Uncontrolled lust can be damaging to our personal lives and our relationships, so we should be careful to keep it under control.
These are only some of the challenges that arise in meditation but there are others that I haven’t mentioned. What meditation challenges have you experienced? Let me know in the comments below.
You may feel a little overwhelmed, that if there are so many problems, is it even worth it? Well, the answer is yes. Meditation will transform your life in a way that no other practice can.
Every challenge will improve your meditation practice over time. See these challenges as guidance, pointing you in the right direction, rather than problems to worry about.
Most of all, take it easy, relax and enjoy your meditation. You are doing amazing and with every day that goes by, if you meditate, you will get better and better.
If you want to learn a simple meditation technique that you can use every day, download this free meditation starter pack. It includes a how to meditate video, a guided meditation, a printout and a 30-day calendar checklist.