I have friends who meditate. I mean for realsies meditate. They take a comfortable seated position (read: a cross-legged position that becomes very uncomfortable for most after about 35 seconds), softly close their eyes, then they sit there for an hour or two or more. Without moving.
Presumably they’re completely engaged in the meditation practice of their choice; not rehashing arguments past or dreaming of food they’d like to eat but can only get in the city they’ll be visiting next week … or is that just me? In any event, for those who can dive easily into an hour (or even a 5-minute) home meditation session, bravo!
For those of us who can’t (yet), here’s what I’ve learned. Once you’ve identified that quiet area of your home where you can do your meditation, and you’ve set aside the time to do it, I’ve found there are typically five reasons why people have trouble committing to a home meditation practice.
1. You don’t really understand the goal of meditation, so you wonder why you’re sitting there in the first place.
Why and how did you start practicing meditation at home? Did you actively seek it out after reading about the wondrous benefits of meditation in a book or an article? Did someone suggest meditation to you as a way to overcome stress, depression or anxiety?
To be honest, I no longer remember how or why I was introduced to meditation, but after some years, I realize that for some of us learning how to meditate is not a substitute for learning the goal of meditation.
So what’s the aim?
In meditation you interrupt the repetitive thoughts that tie you to the ups and downs of life, only to realize that your true self is always just fine. Meditation also tells you to remain even and observant of your thoughts. You're training yourself not to feed the bears, so that when something comes up in your daily life that is unpleasant, you don't jump in headfirst and wallow in it for hours. Meditation teaches you that it's your thoughts and your thoughts alone that cause your suffering.
2. You believe you're failing if you can’t clear your mind.
As discussed above, there will be times when you can’t clear your mind or stay focused on the task dictated by your meditation practice. There will also be times when you focus easily, only to find a few moments later that your mind is off having a pity party or making a list. This is ok. As discussed above, fold this into your meditation practice. Observe the thoughts without judgment or participation, then come back to your practice softly and with kindness. Be kind to yourself and remember that it takes practice to clear your mind.
3. You haven’t found a form of meditation that speaks to you.
Explore different meditation styles (e.g. Vipassana, Insight, mindfulness, visualization, guided, breath-focused, mantra-based). Figure out which works for your home meditation practice. I personally peruse the meditation menu from time to time, and though I've found styles I prefer, I've never found one that I just plain don’t like. If you have a group meditation practice, you might find that you prefer a different style of meditation for when you're meditating home alone. Again, allow yourself to explore.
4. You’re setting the time bar way too high for yourself.
You want to begin a home meditation practice? Start at the beginning. Once you've decided on a style you’d like to try, commit to five minutes a day for a week. Think you can handle more? Then perhaps you’re like me – you should start by bumping up three minutes a day for a week.
Remember: be kind to yourself. Set yourself up to develop a lasting home meditation practice by starting slow. Add one or two minutes to your practice each week until you reach your goal. Take your time and remember that in the meditation game, something is better than nothing.
5. You haven't scheduled it.
As a life coach, I'm a firm believer that until you've scheduled it, it's not real. If you're truly interested in committing to a home meditation practice, pick a set time each day to do your meditation. I recommend mornings before work, but everyone is different. Maybe you'd prefer to meditate after the kids have been sent to school, or after dinner. Choose a time that works for you, but be sure to stick to it. Be kind to yourself (see point 2 again!) if you must miss your meditation on a given day due to a scheduling conflict. Life happens. If you begin to miss it more consistently, you should pick a new time to meditate. Good luck.
Is there something else that gets in the way of your home meditation practice? Please share in the comments below.