I’m too busy to meditate.
It’s not necessary to sit for a long time to practice meditation, although it’s true that the more you meditate the better you feel, and the easier it becomes to find more time for it! There are lots of simple ways to include a quiet moment in your schedule – here are just a couple ideas to get you going.
If you take a bus or train to work you can meditate for the duration of your commute, and arrive at your job feeling relaxed and fresh. Do you have a pet? Research shows that stroking a dog or cat is deeply relaxing and uplifting, which is conducive to meditating.
Whenever you create a moment to let go of mental and physical activity, or when your mind is calmly absorbed into a relaxing activity – giving or receiving a massage, for example, or doodling – you set yourself up for a moment of meditation.
Meditation works for some people, but not for all.
Have you ever tried to fall asleep, but found it just wasn’t happening? Meditation is much the same – we can’t try to do it, it simply happens when the conditions are right. When you want to sleep, you just lie down and get cozy, right? Sleep will only happen when we just let go of the idea that we are making it happen, and this is exactly like meditating.
If you sit comfortably, relax your body and bring your attention to rest on something – like the awareness of your breath, or the sounds around you – you create the conditions that allow meditation to happen. Some days it’s easier to do this than others – it doesn’t matter.
To meditate, the mind has to be empty.
This is a common misconception, and luckily, it’s really not the case! The nature of the mind is to be thinking, so it’s really hard to try to stop it from doing its job. Especially in the beginning, what we could aim for is practicing detachment from, or a sort of indifference to, the thoughts that come up.
This means that you might notice you’re having a thought, but you can practice loosening up your attention and just allowing the thought to disappear back into wherever it came from in the first place. Gradually, you might notice that there are gaps between thoughts, and over time, as the body and mind become calmer, these gaps get bigger.
Enjoy being aware of the gaps, and notice how you might feel different in those brief moments of “no thought” than in the moments when you realize you are thinking.
If I start meditating, I will have to join a new religion.
All cultures and spiritual traditions from around the world encourage meditation – only the wording or approach to it might be different. Whatever your background, you will find a context for calming the mind, because our wise ancestors understood how wonderfully beneficial meditating is.
From the most rational atheist, to the most devout religious follower, anyone can meditate without having to change either religion or worldview.
I’m too stiff to meditate – I can’t sit with my legs crossed on the floor!
You can meditate in many different ways – including while walking. Find the most comfortable and dignified way to sit upright – perhaps sitting in a chair, using cushions to support your hips and legs – or you can even practice lying down if you can avoid falling asleep.
Even for experienced meditators, it’s easier to meditate in nature than in busy, stressful places. Go for a slow walk in a park or forest, sit on a park bench, or lean up against a tree. Connecting with the earth, natural water sources or with a tree is calming and restorative, and makes it more likely that your mind and body can relax.
Then, however you can manage to enjoy a few moments of quietude, you will be well on your way to practicing meditation!