Meditation Series #2: Common Challenges That Come Up When Starting A New Practice
As with any new adventure, there are feelings of starting off with tons of excitement, anticipation, and exhilaration and then falling off the wagon is common. When you begin your endeavor of meditation, it is important to remember that there will be times of frustration. And that's totally ok! Meditation is not a magic pill that, once swallowed, will come easily and effortlessly all the time every time. It takes practice. It takes patience, gentleness & flexibility. You are going to hear me say that a lot throughout this series. Repetition is the mother of retention & learning.
So in this 2nd post of 10, we are going to cover some common problems that come up in the early stages of a new practice.
No. 1 It is hard to focus
- In the beginning, you may have high expectations that meditation will magically transform your life and it will do so immediately. This is not the case. Meditation takes attention & focus. When you find your mind constantly shifting gears and you are unable to sit quietly and focus on breathing, you need to be able to redirect your mind chatter.
Sometimes picking a focal point in the center of the room or even a focal point that you have created in your mind's eye will alleviate the problem of focus. Concentrating on your breathing will also help you gain control of your meditation experience. Using a counting method when breathing is a great tool. You might recall in a past post I walked you through the process of the 4-Square Breath. Inhale for a count of 4, Hold for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4. Refer to the link about to revisit that post and download the free guided audio in it.
No. 2: Thinking too much
– If you are thinking too much about trying not to think too much, you will totally sabotage yourself. Try not to focus too much on getting clear and quiet. If you find you are straining the muscles in your forehead, grinding your teeth, locking your jaw, then you are trying too hard. Try to take a deep breath, focus on relaxing your scalp, your forehead, your jaw, your tongue & clear your mind. Start with a slow progression of deep breaths, then start tensing and releasing various parts of your body and your muscles. You will find this will relax you. When it comes to meditation, too much effort can derail you.
No.3: Too many distractions
– If you have not designated a quiet space for your mediation, chances are that you will not have a successful beginning. It is very important to have a set-aside room or space for your meditation practice. If you have chosen a place with too many distractions and too much traffic, you have set yourself up for failure. In addition, it is imperative to tell your family members that you have a schedule and you intend to stick to it.
No. 4: Blowing off your commitment
– In the beginning, when you are not quite seeing the immediate results you may have hoped for, it is easy to blow off your practice. However, make it a point to stick to your commitment even if that means being accountable to a friend or family member. If you give up too soon, you will never reap the amazing mind, body, spirit benefits.
No. 5: Difficulty with the breathing rhythm
– Sometimes individuals may breathe in too deeply and out too rapidly. The point is not to hyperventilate yourself, but to find a rhythm that works for you. Long, slow, deep inhalations with long, slow exhalations will work better than short breaths in and short breaths out. Once you get the feel for the rhythm, you will have mediation down in no time flat. Again, refer to the counting method above if you are struggling.
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- Dr. Lara
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