5 most common meditation struggles for beginners

Meditation on the beach

Meditation’s biggest challenges

If you are new to meditation or just thinking of giving it a try, read this article to know how to overcome the 5 most common struggles:

1. “I can’t stop thinking”

Here’s the thing:  you shouldn’t expect a blank mind, actually. This is one of the biggest misunderstandings about meditation.  Once you learn that meditation includes observing your thoughts but not attaching to them, then the relief is quite astounding.  You are not a bad meditator just because you have distracting thoughts.

2. “I don’t have time to meditate”

Meditation does not mean you need to carve out 30 or 60 minutes per day, especially as a beginner.  People feel the benefits of meditation even with 5 or 10 minutes per day, or even pausing during your busy day to take 3 deep, slow, mindful breaths.  And if you don’t think you can set aside 10 minutes per day, just question whether you need to be watching that TV show or browsing the internet.  It’s a matter of priority, right?

3.  “I fall asleep when I try to meditate”

Sometimes you might just simply be tired and need to sleep. But often, our brains are conditioned to think ‘my eyes are closed, it’s time to sleep!’.  With practice, we learn to stay alert even with our eyes closed.  Also, sitting up straight, but relaxed, will help you stay awake.  Don’t flop on the sofa to meditate!

4.  “I don’t want to sit there and do nothing”

Another misunderstanding about meditation is that you sit and do nothing. Meditation is actually a very active activity – you are actively concentrating on the object of your meditation and noticing when your mind has wandered, without judgment, and then return your attention to your meditation.  You learn to be a curious observer during meditation so it’s far from ‘doing nothing’.

5.  “My body hurts during meditation”

Although there are a few formal meditation traditions that suggest you should not move a muscle during your meditation, it’s generally fine to adjust for comfort.  It may take some experimentation for you to find a good meditation position (sitting in a chair, on a meditation cushion, on a meditation bench, etc). During the meditation, if you need to move, it’s fine to move slowly and mindfully.

I have taught over 1,000 people how to meditate, and these are the top 5 most common challenges that people have.  How about you?  If you have any questions about meditation, I welcome emails at Wendy@TheCalmMonkey.com. I hope this has been helpful to you.

~Wendy Quan, of The Calm Monkey

2 thoughts on “5 most common meditation struggles for beginners

  1. I really appreciated this post – so much helpful insight in five thoughtful points! What I’d like more help with is how I might practice meditation so as to help me ease into sleep. I use a meditation app (InsightTimer) but haven’t found a particular guided meditation that is helpful. I understand what you say in point #3 but for me, anything at all that can help me overcome the escalating sleep-time anxiety, however unintentionally, would make a big difference to my wellness. Meanwhile, thank you for your blog posts!

    • Hi Robin! Thank you for a very thoughtful comment. I’m glad this post was helpful. As for falling asleep, I wonder if you have come across a meditation that makes you feel sleepy? I have, and some people have mentioned this to me as well. An example might be a meditation were you breathe rhythmically, slowly, deeply and relaxed (which invokes the relaxation response of your body), and add a silent mantra such as ‘In, Out’ ‘Deep, Slow’ ‘In, Out’ ‘Deep, Slow’, etc. timed with your inhalation and exhalation. (words can be anything that you find relaxing). I recommend reserving one meditation just for helping you to fall asleep, and to not use this meditation for when you want to actually meditate. Perhaps give this a try and see how it goes. Another suggestion is that most people find if they meditate in the evening, then they sleep much better that night.
      I hope this helps you, Robin. Thank you for writing 🙂

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