Almost every healing tradition teaches that regular rituals of stillness and silence improve our overall sense of wellbeing. Modern scientific research shows that meditation offers a host of benefits. Plus, it’s cost free. And yet, many of us resist committing to a regular practice—including people who enjoy meditating!
I’ve experienced this resistance myself, so I get it. During a period when I was suffering from insomnia, a healer in Tulum recommended that I meditate rather than practice any other form of physical exercise, even yoga. I hesitated and finally decided to enroll in a four-week training course in order to get me going. Although I struggled with boredom in my first session, I became more engaged as the course continued.
That was over 20 years ago. Since then, there have been periods when I resist sitting on my meditation cushion—usually when I need it most. And yet, when I do maintain a consistent practice, I feel more balanced, abundant, connected to my authentic self, and empowered. Meditation has freed my mind, supported my body, uplifted my spirit, and shifted the trajectory of my life in positive ways.
What causes us to resist when we think about setting aside a few minutes each day to meditate?
Here are seven common blocks—and tips for overcoming them.
You don’t want to experience uncomfortable emotions. The stillness of meditation connects you more closely with your emotions, some of which may be unpleasant. Keeping busy prevents you from feeling these emotions. If there are some unconscious ones that you would prefer to avoid dealing with, you may find yourself resisting meditation.
Solution: Regard the potential discomfort of meditation as a pathway towards greater wellbeing and satisfaction.
You feel guilty. Most of us live in a culture that doesn’t recognize that getting rest and feeling relaxed enhances health, creativity, happiness, and productivity. Meditation, simply being, takes you out of doing. You may unconsciously feel guilty for not doing enough.
Solution: Prioritize self-care.
You don’t have time. Not having enough time is one of the most common excuses for not meditating. When I hear this pushback from clients, I ask them to consider all of the time that they spend on their smartphone or TV. A meditation practice can begin with as little as three minutes daily and then gradually increase.
Solution: Try starting with three minutes.
You find meditation boring. Meditation isn’t meant to be exciting. It’s an investment in your holistic health. Establishing a meditation practice is about creating a habit or ritual that allows you to present the best version of yourself each day. You take a shower daily. No one stops showering because they find it boring.
Solution: View meditation as a shower for your mind.
You feel that meditation takes too long to work. Meditation commonly delivers noticeable benefits within eight weeks of daily practice. However, you may notice small changes well before that (even as soon as after the first session). The effects of meditation are cumulative, meaning that the benefits increase over time.
Solution: Consider meditation an investment in your long-term wellbeing, similar to how you might think of exercise or proper nutrition.
You’re not sure how to do it. Meditation is a practice with a process. Many people think they are doing it incorrectly or that something is wrong because thoughts interrupt their practice. Videos, apps, classes, and coaches are readily available to support you. Teachers like Jack Kornfield, Ram Dass, and Sharon Salzberg share their teachings for free on YouTube.
Solution: Take advantage of the numerous resources available to get you started.
You’re confused about what meditation is. Meditation takes effort. It is not the same as resting. When you rest, your mind drifts. Meditation is about focusing your attention on the present moment and thereby cultivating presence. This is important because if you are not in the present, you are either in the future (anxiety) or past (depression). Research shows that practicing presence may help to reduce symptoms of both anxiety and depression.
Solution: Commit to it—it will become enjoyable. And most importantly, you will create an addictive habit that you will no longer resist.
Feeling inspired but rushed? Learn how to meditate in just one minute.