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7 Obstacles to Meditation

Updated: May 3



Overcoming your initial roadblocks in meditation practice is often part of the challenge to getting started and staying committed. The most common reasons I hear why people don’t try to meditate (including myself if someone mentioned it to me!) are:

  1. I don't have time for it,

  2. I can't sit still,

  3. My mind won't stop racing.

These are normal responses and should not be a reason to give up.


There are also common myths like meditation is about not thinking - this is not true and impossible!


Following are some possible solutions to the most common obstacles faced during meditation:


Restlessness

Feeling restless or having difficulty relaxing is a widespread response if you are not used to sitting still for long periods. It can also be your mind's resistance to not "doing" something. Possible solutions:

  • Try guided relaxation or yoga Nidra meditation.

  • Shake your arms and legs.

  • Go for a walk or do some yoga or dancing to release energy.

  • Clench and relax each muscle group working your way from your face to your toes.


Drowsiness

Sleepiness or falling asleep during meditation is fine, if you listen to meditation specifically at night to get a restful sleep. Also, it doesn't matter if you fall asleep before the meditation has ended - you have heard what you needed to. At any other time, try meditating in a location other than your bedroom (as your brain tends to associate this room with sleep). Other possible solutions:

  • Try a sitting posture rather than lying down.

  • Do some stretches or go for a walk before meditating.

  • Avoid eating and drinking before meditating.

  • Ensure you are getting enough sleep at night.


Emotional Responses

It is common for emotions and thoughts to arise when sitting for long periods without the distractions of keeping busy. Crying, laughing, and farting are signs of releasing tension and will usually clear as you continue. Other possible solutions:

  • Be gentle and kind to yourself.

  • Release the emotional energy before meditating, e.g., have a good cry.

  • If it becomes too intense, stop and continue later when you have processed or released the emotion.

  • If persistent thoughts or emotions affect your ability to enjoy everyday life or function correctly, please seek professional counselling services.


Disengagement

Mindfulness meditation is a means to embrace and accept life rather than escape reality. It is normal to feel sensations of "drifting off" sometimes but essential to remain aware. Possible solutions:

  • Keep your feet touching the ground.

  • Focus on your breathing.

  • Avoid eating or drinking before meditating.

  • Meditate where there is sound, e.g. outdoors.


Hyperventilation or Hypoventilation

Changes in your breathing pattern can result in decreased or increased levels of Co2, which can cause dizziness and anxiety. Possible solutions:

  • Breathe in and out through your nostrils at your own natural pace and rhythm.

  • Breathe in through the nose and out through your mouth as though you are holding a straw between your lips.

  • Do not try to hold your breath or breathe too deeply.

  • Stretch or go for a gentle walk.


Negative Associations with Meditation

Feeling guilty at taking this time out for yourself or being perceived as spending time doing nothing can hinder your progress. Possible solutions to tell yourself:

  • Self-care is vital for physical and mental wellbeing and conducive to harmonious relationships.

  • If you do not look after yourself, it will hamper your care for others and even your performance at work, home or sport.,

  • Meditation can help you be more productive, bringing greater focus and clarity.

  • Just like physical exercise, the key to maximising the benefits of meditation is consistency, and the longer you meditate, the greater the benefits be.


Physical discomfort during meditation:

A little bit of discomfort is okay to keep you awake and aware, but too much pain will distract you from your meditation practice and its benefits. Possible solutions:

  • Stretch or do yoga before meditating.

  • Try focussing on your breathing until any minor discomforts like cramps, itching, or mild pain go away.

  • Massage, scratch, or rub the area if need be.

  • Mindfully move your body into a more comfortable position.


If you're looking for a simple but effective way to boost your health and wellbeing, mindfulness meditation may be something that changes your life and is worth the obstacles!


From improving your physical and mental wellbeing to reducing stress and anxiety, there are countless benefits of taking time each day just for yourself. By focussing on what you can control in your life and removing your self-imposed limitations, you can achieve anything you set out to do in a more effortless and less stressful manner.


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