Why Isn't Meditation Working For Me? Keep These 6 Things In Mind If You're Frustrated
Meditating can be quite the challenging task. If you've ever attempted to include the practice in your life, but "failed" soon after you started, I'm going to assume it looked something like this: You sat down in total silence, did your best to focus on your breathing, realized your mind wouldn't STFU for longer than a couple of seconds, and ultimately decided mindfulness must be a load of BS. When meditation isn't working for you, it's easy to think you're just not "zen" enough for the practice, and that you're simply not cut out for it for whatever reason.
Even if you've tried to sit down and practice mindfulness time and time again, with seemingly no real results, let me be clear: Anyone is capable of meditation. That doesn't mean it's easy, but it does mean it's possible, and it honestly just takes some people longer to grasp than others. There's truly no right or wrong way to do it; the long-term benefits of meditation simply require patience and consistent dedication.
If you feel like you're "failing" at meditating, I can assure you that's not possible. Here are six things to keep in mind if you feel like meditation just isn't working for you.
1. Drop All Expectations
The reason why many beginners feel like their meditation practice is a bust is because they go into it with a list of expectations of how it "should" go. For example, if you think you should completely empty your mind when you sit down to meditate, you're probably going to be majorly p*ssed off when random thoughts are still popping up all over the place.
Meditation is not about setting out to master your own mind; it's simply about observing how things really are, and learning how to sit with uncomfortable sensations and thoughts without being bothered by them.
Some people might feel totally blissed out immediately after their meditations sessions, while others might take longer to uncover that sense of calm that mindfulness instills in you. It's about practice, not perfection. Drop the expectations and see what happens, my friend.
2. Consider Keeping Your Practice Short And Sweet
Hey, you — quit telling yourself you "need" to meditate for 30 minutes a day to actually benefit from the practice.
Once you let go of all of the arbitrary rules you've placed around mindfulness, it'll be a lot easier to approach it confidently, without that dreading sense of failure.
Seriously, even as little as five minutes of meditation can shift your entire perspective and turn your day around. And if you stop making yourself sit for way longer than you'd like, you might come to realize you actually want to experience what longer meditation sessions feel like.
3. Remember That Your Breath Is A Powerful Tool
Just as there's no right or wrong way to meditate, there is no correct or incorrect way to breathe. The biggest thing to keep in mind here is using your breath as a tool to ease into each of your meditation practices, so you can feel as relaxed and centered as possible.
In a blog post for the meditation app Headspace, Andy Puddicombe, a meditation and mindfulness expert, wrote that taking a couple of deep, expansive breaths at the beginning of each meditation session helps ground the mind and set a restorative tone for your mindfulness practice.
After that, though, feel free to breathe however your little heart desires. It's all about finding what relaxes you, and only you.
4. Try Out A Group Setting
It's possible that meditation isn't working for you because you're having trouble committing to the practice on your own. And while mindfulness is typically a solo activity, trying out a group meditation session certainly won't hurt, and it may help keep you accountable while you're learning what works best for you.
And hey, who knows, maybe joining a meditation group will inspire you to practice mindfulness on your own time at home. Before you know it, meditation will come to you with total ease.
5. Or Dabble In Walking Meditations
Another challenge that beginner meditators might get discouraged by is the difficulty that comes with sitting still. It's really hard not to move for even just a few minutes, and the urge to adjust your clothing or scratch that itch can be too strong to ignore.
Walking meditations might be a lovely way to ease into your practice and become more mindful of your surroundings. Simply observing the rhythmic sound of your feet hitting the ground with each step will bring a sense of reassurance and relaxation to your day.
6. Embrace Your Anxious Thoughts Instead Of Trying To Quiet Them
You might feel like your meditation practice is a flop because you can't quiet your mind for the life of you. But this is a really common misconception about meditation: It's not about blocking your thoughts or shutting them up!
A meditation practice is all about learning to observe your thoughts without judging them — simply recognizing what's going on up in your brain, and then letting it go. Once you stop trying to control every single aspect of your mindfulness practice, you'll realize you've been a meditating pro from day one.