3 Reasons You Keep Quitting Your Meditation Practice
You're a regular at your Vinyasa yoga class, jade roll in the morning, and even choke back mystery tonics for the sake of gut health. But one daily wellness practice just doesn't seem to stick: meditation. You know meditation is good for you. After all, the science is in: It reduces anxiety and inflammation, reverses body age, increases your productivity, and even increases sex drive.
So why do you keep quitting your meditation practice?
I've taught more than 15,000 people how to commit to a daily practice. All too often, students come to me as self-described "ex-meditators." They have downloaded all the apps, gone to all the top drop-in studios, and set their New Year's resolution to meditate for the past several years. But after a few weeks of dedication, they began to lose steam. If this sounds like you, you're not alone, and help is on the way. Let's look at the most common challenges keeping you from getting your tush on the cush.
You can't clear your mind.
How many times have you sat down to meditate and your thoughts kept firing off at a mile a minute? Suddenly, you can't stop thinking about that intense work meeting, or your friend's new dog, or how much you'd love a doughnut even though you haven't eaten a doughnut in months (years?). Then the guilt creeps in because aren't you supposed to clear your mind during this meditation thing?
Here's the news, friend: The mind thinks involuntarily just like the heart beats involuntarily.
I always hear people struggling to clear their minds during meditation, and I want to tell them they are making this much more difficult than it needs to be. The mind thinks involuntarily just like the heart beats involuntarily. I challenge my students to give their heart a command to stop beating and see how that goes. Wanna give it a try? If you're still reading this, I'll assume it didn't go well (thankfully!). But here's the thing: Thoughts are not the enemy. In fact, during meditation, your thoughts are a signal that stress is leaving the body—which is the whole point, to get better at life by reducing stress in the body.
You're too busy to meditate.
I get it—we're all busy. But this may be the most important thing you can take away from this article: Meditation actually gives you back time in your day.
Let me explain: When we meditate, we're actually giving our bodies rest that is five times deeper than sleep. We are de-exciting the nervous system and reducing stress at the cellular level. By taking care of all of these things during our meditation, when we go to sleep at night, our body doesn't have to work so hard clearing the stress from our day and instead uses this time to rest deeply. Hundreds of students—myself among them—report needing less sleep nightly after starting the practice.
Plus, during meditation, we're strengthening the connection between our left brain and right brain, which means we can still access creative solutions during high-demand, high-stakes situations. Meditation also dramatically improves productivity, allowing you to blow through your to-do list in less time. Suddenly, tasks that used to take you five hours might take you only two.
Not to mention the many physical and emotional benefits of a daily practice—it's like going to therapy while getting a facial AND taking a nap all at the same time...
So the reality is, you don't have time not to meditate.
The emotions that come up are too intense.
When you begin certain types of meditation, there is a period I call "unstressing," during which you may experience a physical and emotional catharsis, or detox. This can include anything from irritability, sadness, or fatigue. While it may sound unpleasant (and it is), it's your body's response to releasing the stress your body has stored on a cellular level over your entire life.
When you're going through this phase, it's easy to want to quit. But the emotional detox lasts only a short time, and what's on the other side is a lifetime of bliss, fulfillment, less stress, and extraordinary performance.
When you factor in all of the benefits, your meditation practice just might be the most important part of your wellness routine. From less stress and inflammation to more productivity, improved immune function, and better sleep, carving out the time to get to the chair is a nonnegotiable.
Emily Fletcher is the founder of Ziva Meditation, the world's first online meditation training program, and the author of Stress Less, Accomplish More. Ziva's mission is to make meditation attractive and accessible to modern people who are ready to up-level their performance and their life. Recently featured in the New York Times and regarded as one of the leading experts in Vedic meditation, Fletcher has been invited by companies like Google, Barclays Bank, Viacom, Chanel, Coca-Cola, and sweetgreen to help up-level company performance through meditation.
Fletcher has had the honor of speaking at Summit Series, Awesomeness Fest, and the Omega Center. She began her nine years of training in Rishikesh, India, and was inspired to teach after experiencing the profound physical and mental benefits meditation provided her during her 10-year career on Broadway, which included roles in Chicago, The Producers, and A Chorus Line.
With her high-performance background and intensive meditation training, Fletcher is perfectly suited to teach busy people how to incorporate meditation and visualization into their life, and she's an mbg course instructor! You can learn with her by joining her course, Guided Visualizations: How to Overcome Your Fears, Excel at Work, and Have Mind-Blowing Sex. She has also created a powerful guided visualization called zivaDETOX. It's a simple, downloadable audio that is designed to help you release thoughts and stress that are not serving you and to get you on the right path to leaving the stress behind.