Meditation for those that ‘just can’t meditate’
The popularity of the ancient practice of meditation continues to rise in the western world. It seems that we can’t check out at a grocery store without seeing at least one magazine touting the benefits of meditation.
And odds are you’ve tried it at least once. Am I right?
Yet, we all know that one person – and perhaps it’s you! – that “just can’t meditate.”
“I’ve tried it and can’t do it.” “I can’t sit still.” “It’s not for me.”
The truth is, we can all actually do it. Some of us just interpret normal and expected attention-related issues as some type of failure. Everyone fails at meditation … and that’s part of the beauty of it.
It’s through those ‘failures’ … those distractions … that we see our potential and measure our progress.
But why should we meditate?
Meditation provides many proven benefits. Studies have shown it reduces stress, helps control anxiety, promotes emotional health, can generate kindness, and may even reduce age-related memory loss. (Healthline.com – 12 Science-based Benefits of Meditation)
Dr. John Mitchell of Duke University believes that meditation is especially beneficial to individuals dealing with attention disorders such as ADD and ADHD, despite the specific challenge these practitioners have with focus and sitting still.
It helps to keep us calm, it improves our focus, and it recharges us. All very important reasons to find a few minutes of “me time” for meditation each day.
Tips for the formerly frustrated
Give yourself some credit – As with absolutely everything in life, things get easier with a little practice. It may take you 5-10 meditation sessions before you detect the improvement that you’re no doubt making. If you decide to add meditation to your daily routine, be fair to yourself and allow a couple of weeks before passing judgment.
Start with basic breath-focused meditation – While there are many forms of meditation (guided, body scanning, noting, visualization, loving/kindness, resting awareness, reflection), a simple breath-focused meditation is a wonderful ‘entry level’ place to start. Here’s one guide to help get us started.
Distraction is normal – You will be distracted over and over and over again. That’s part of being human. When you are distracted, let the thought simply float away and return your focus to your meditation.
Start small – Begin with a 3-minute session. When that feels good, bump it up to 5 minutes. Then 7. Then 10. It’s not a race and there is no requirement that you need to hit. You’ll know when it’s the right time to increase your session’s duration.
The world is your meditation haven – You don’t need a quiet comfortable room with a mat, statue, incense, and a gong to meditate. The train, the bathtub, the bus stop, the coffee shop … it all works.
Believe in yourself, give yourself a little room, find a few minutes each day and tap into the peace and tranquility of meditation.
The benefits are real, and you certainly deserve them.
Dr. Wayne Bullock is an experienced psychologist specializing in the needs of gay men, the LGBTQ community, and those dealing with anxiety, depression, and trauma. He welcomes new clients from the Washington D.C. metro area.