Meditation is not easy for people to start. What's encouraging about that though? It's normal! We all hear the stories of people who see the light, get blissed out and achieve eternal happiness. It's not abnormal to find meditation unpleasant in the beginning. People who are used to a busy environment find it to be a practice of doing nothing, pointless, the opposite of relaxing and frankly something that they're not good at.
This is all pretty normal though. With some practice and perseverance, it does become easier though, and you become more accepting that it isn't a win-lose exercise, but a journey. Knowing the process of meditation at a high level can help you manage your expectations and keep you on the right path, even when you're going through a difficult session. There is a circular pattern to how meditation works at the simplest level:
- you focus on something, most usually your breath. could also be a visual object or the reciting of a mantra.
- your focus wanders, you think about that issue at work or what's for dinner and that you needed to answer that email
- you catch yourself, judge/scold yourself, bring yourself back to bullet #1 and begin again
Here are some tactics to overcome some of the challenges.
Experiment with length of session
You don't need to start with a 10 minute or 20 minute session. Try keeping it short and building confidence and enthusiasm. Small victories. Meditation is about what works for you. Guided meditations leave that personalization component out. 4-5 minutes to start could be adequate and keep you coming back, and building off of that.
Try different types of meditation
So many different types of meditation are available, with great teachers available to us thanks to technology. There are obviously guided meditations through youtube, apps like Headspace, Calm and Waking Up. Then there are walking meditations, breath-focused, story meditations, etc. Have patience when trying a new type of meditation as you'll want to give it some time to see how it works for you, versus trying it for just one session.
Comfort for the win
Get comfortable and by all means do what works for you here. Not everyone can sit on a NadaPada zafu. Some people aren't flexible for a lotus position. That's ok! A chair could work just as well. Sometimes I like to sit on the third step of our basement. It just works for me. Some people choose to lay down for their meditation session. Do what works for you. One watch out is that you don't want to be too comfortable that you fall asleep though.
You should not enter a meditation session with expectations of how you will feel after. Don't have a goal, just let it be and go through the process. Don't try and clear your mind, or achieve bliss, or change your perspective. Just be.
These are just a few things to try during your meditation session. Ultimately, do what works for you and be creative and resourceful to make meditation work for you.