How to Meditate for Those Who Can’t Meditate
Meditation is one of the most universally prescribed solutions to a whole assortment of issues. But what happens when you can’t do it? When you feel your mind flutter with thoughts racing about the day ahead of you or the day you just had? What do you do when you can’t sit still for longer than two minutes without getting up to check your phone, open the fridge, or check on your kids? The world is full of a plethora of distractions. We can easily make excuses that we “hardly have a minute to ourselves throughout the day!” let alone sitting in complete silence, focusing on our breath for a full uninterrupted 10-20 minutes a day.
So what do we do about it?
We know that meditation can be difficult for those with busy schedules, families, little ones running around, and careers that have a constant flow of unfinished tasks waiting to be completed. But what if we told you that meditation could actually help you achieve success throughout your day? That it could help you become more efficient, more focused, and more present throughout your daily routine? Would you believe us?
Of course there are many reasons why you might tell yourself you can’t or won’t or don’t meditate. Some common excuses we might tell ourselves could be:
I’m too busy, how in the world do I have time to sit down and do nothing?
I have ADD, I can’t even focus on the assignment I have for work let alone focus on my breathing for 10 whole minutes
I have better things to do right now than to sit down and meditate
I can’t concentrate now, how am I supposed to sit down and think of nothing?
My mind races all day long, there is no way I can sit down in silence and focus on just my breath
However, these are not your truth. These are all lies you keep telling yourself to get out of doing something that you know would be good for you. Rather, instead of focusing on all the ways you can’t meditate, why not focus on the reasons why it would be helpful? Experienced meditators and even some doctors can inform you how it can help you achieve your goals, ease your anxiety, and help you feel calmer, more successful, and less stressed. All it takes is the willingness to try. The way to begin is to set your mind free of these unhelpful thoughts and let your excuses go. The first step in meditating is simply starting. Open yourself up to the possibility that you might enjoy it or benefit from it. Your practice does not need to be perfect. It doesn’t even need to feel comfortable. It most likely won’t. But that is exactly why they call it practice.
Let yourself believe that meditation will benefit you and begin the process by acknowledging that you are a beginner and are trying something for the first time. Begin with no expectations and and no preconceived ideas of what to expect, feel, or become. Meditation is not much different than any other activity you learn to do for the first time. It’s like tying a shoe. You didn’t know how to do it the first time you learned. And yet, you tried and tried again until you became a master of it. Now you can tie your shoe with your eyes closed! Imagine that! All it takes is practice and a willingness to show up.
Here are a few of our favorite meditation hacks to help you get started and remember, there is no right or wrong way to meditate. True meditation is simply about connecting to your truest self. So, let’s get started.
Count to Ten
Counting is a great way to take your mind off life’s distractions and ground yourself. Sit up, (anywhere you are is fine), take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Close your eyes. Begin. Take a deep breath in and silently count to one. Exhale that same breath as you again silently count to two. Continue this process until you get to 10 full breaths. Start over when you notice your mind wander or you lose focus. This sounds easier than it is! This is a great tool to ground yourself, calm yourself down, and to use to notice where your mind goes.
Take a Walk Outside
Walking meditations are wonderful ways to get you outside, immersed in the beauty of nature or the metropolis surrounding you, and focus only on walking. Do not bring your phone or anything that will distract you. Simply walk, breathe in the crisp air, and bring your attention to your footsteps and your breath. If you are working through a city, look up! Take out those headphones and notice the buildings and sights around you. Or just count each foot step.
Watch or Listen
Free meditation guides are easy to find. It is simpler, and more accessible than ever before to relax, find a guide, and listen. YouTube and mobile apps now host a plethora of free guided meditations. Here are some favorites to get you started. Check out this video on breathing or anything from Pema Chodron, Alan Watts, or download the apps Calm, Headspace, Inscape, or Insight Timer.
60 seconds, 90 seconds, 180 seconds
Ever heard anyone say, “You can do anything for 60 seconds?” Well, it is because they’re right. You can. Your mind can relax, your body can sit still, and your eyes can close for a full minute. You are more powerful than you might think. If you believe you can meditate for 60 seconds then you will. Once you reach 60, next try 90 seconds. Once you hit 90, try 180 seconds. Keeping the goals in seconds rather than minutes is a wonderful trick to get you started. Small goals help you reach those goals of achieving a consistent meditation practice within your daily routine.
Start the day by journaling whatever comes through you. Right as you wake up, put your pen to your paper and just start writing. This practice allows you to free your mind and put some of your racing thoughts at ease by writing them down. Meditation is a way to disassociate from your mind clutter and ultimately helps you create real change. Morning pages helps you understand that change on a deeper level because writing whatever you feel gives you creative freedom, personal reflection, and frees up space in your mind. Start today and notice how you feel at the end of a full 7 days of completing morning pages. There is no need to set a time limit on this, but if it’s helpful, start with 2 minutes.
Say Thank You
Gratitude is one of life’s most powerful emotions. Feeling grateful for your life and all the things that make it up is one of the most comforting and rewarding feelings you can gift yourself. Start a gratitude journal and practice meditating on three things you are most grateful for each morning before you leave the house. Keep those three things in your mind throughout the day and let yourself say “Thank you” silently or aloud to the universe. Keeping gratitude close to your heart each day is also what meditation is about. Try to meditate on those three things the next time you sit down. Notice how you feel. Write it down in your journal. And most importantly, do it all over again tomorrow. This can really help with perspective when you’re feeling stressed. If it is hard to feel grateful for anything, don’t fret! The more you practice, the easier it will get - like building a muscle.
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