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Difficulty Meditating: The Barriers To Meditation & How To Overcome Them

difficulty meditating

 

The benefits of meditation are something that, in recent years, have become very well known. From managing anxiety to increasing our levels of productivity, there are scores of reasons why we may want to make meditation a daily habit. Beeja meditation is an effortless technique that can seamlessly fit into modern life, but there are times when we experience difficulty meditating and making this amazing practice part of our day.

As meditation teachers, at Will Williams Meditation we’ve either experienced personally or witnessed through our students pretty much every stumbling block to meditation there is. Sometimes even the best of intentions can’t stop us from falling off the meditation wagon, and you may have found that despite your sincere desire to practice meditation it’s been days, weeks or months since you last meditated.

There are various reasons why this might be. This guide is here to take you through the most barriers to meditation and help you to overcome any difficulty meditating that you may be experiencing.

Falling Asleep During Meditation

Everyone’s done it – you sit down somewhere comfy for a meditation session and before you know where you are, you’ve drifted off. Not every meditation is going to be an amazing, transcendent experience (although each one is important) and sometimes reaching for that lovely space between focus and relaxation can be pretty soporific!

Finding yourself snoring in your favourite meditation spot isn’t anything to worry about on the odd occasion, but you may have found that snoozing when you want to meditate has become a big barrier between you and your practice. A few practical tips to keep yourself firmly away from the land of nod are:

 

  • Get some fresh air: Now, this isn’t to say you should meditate in Arctic conditions (you will want to stay comfortable), but opening a window or heading outside to meditate so you are just on the other side of “sleepily warm” can be a big help in keeping you alert.
  • Mix up your routine: We think, generally speaking, that meditating at the beginning of the day is a good idea. However, if you get out of bed, sit down to meditate and immediately doze off, there’s no reason not to mix it up a bit. You might be too sleepy at the beginning or end of the day to meditate effectively, so meditate in your lunch break and before cooking dinner instead – anytime when you feel at your most awake. It’s also a good idea to avoid meditating immediately after a big meal, as the energy expended in digestion can make us feel sluggish.
  • Don’t get too comfy: One of the most wonderful things about Beeja meditation is that it doesn’t require any special poses or physical discomfort – something which some meditation techniques rely on. But if you are falling asleep with bothersome regularity, you might want to take a look at your favourite meditation spots, and make sure they are as unconnected to your “sleep spaces” as possible. This may mean eschewing blankets and your squishiest armchair, but there are plenty of ways to be comfortable in meditation without the danger of getting that bit too comfortable.

 

If you’ve tried all of the above and are still falling asleep during lots of meditation sessions, you may want to assess what it might be that is making you so tired. Meditation can help amazingly with sleep and energy levels, but if you are chronically overworked or living with an underlying health issue you may still struggle with fatigue and find it difficult to meditate (and therefore feel the benefits) until you address the problem.

Struggling With Feelings of Frustration

Beeja meditation is, in our opinion, the most effortless form of meditation. You simply repeat your mantra, and when your attention wanders, gently redirect to your mantra once more. You really can’t go wrong! However, it is possible to get yourself in a bit of a rut if you start beating yourself up for not meditating “properly”, becoming frustrated with the chattering thoughts that, really, are natural and unavoidable.

Putting yourself under too much pressure can make meditation an exacerbating experience, especially if you have lots of expectations for yourself and are rushing to feel the benefits. For instance, if you want to start meditating to offset working an extra couple of hours every day, you may become annoyed with yourself for not becoming instantly more productive and begin battling your mind rather than relaxing naturally into a meditative state.

In Beeja meditation, you just need to let the mantra – effortlessly – do it’s work. The key thing is to make sure you don’t start labelling your own wandering attention as the enemy and pour lots of mental energy into suppressing your thoughts. This can make meditation unenjoyable, becoming less about “flow” and more about “fight”, and sitting down to meditate with goals in mind can be a barrier to actually achieving them.

Experiencing Discomfort – Both Physically and Mentally

The things we experience when we go into a meditative state aren’t necessarily going to be pleasant. Meditation brings us to the very root of our beings in an extremely powerful way, and it helps us untangle a lifetime of stresses, hurts and even psychological trauma. As Brigid Moss reports in The Pool, this isn’t always going to be easy. While many of our meditation experiences will be beautiful and dreamy, and a few rather unremarkable, we are sometimes going to encounter long-buried emotional wounds.

This is all part of the process and ultimately extremely healing, allowing us to break free from unconscious patterns determined by fears and bad memories. However, it can also be off-putting for some people, especially if they are reluctant to seek out guidance and discuss their experiences. Another discomfort some meditators report are aches and pains during meditation, which are distracting and annoying – but generally short-lived.

To understand more about the psychological disquiet we might face when working through the traumas which are encoded deeply in our nervous system, we recommend reading Will William’s The Effortless Mind, which explores the science and psychology this phenomenon. But in the meantime, letting yourself meditate through these experiences will be a major step towards moving on from them, and if you learnt with us, you can get in touch with our teachers at any time for advice and support.

Final thoughts

These are, in our opinion, some of the major stumbling blocks to meditation, and if you get through these niggles it’s likely your meditation practice will last a lifetime!

However, there is one influencing factor which perhaps trumps them all when it comes to making meditation part of our day – and that is feeling as though we lack the necessary time. This is something we thought warrants a blog post of its own, so watch this space to find out more!

 

This entry was posted in blog.

How Meditation Can Help New Families

how meditation can help new families

 

One of the things you notice, as you advance through your early life, is a marked changed in the content of your Facebook feed. Photos of neon-waving nights out start slowly disappearing, to be replaced by squishy newborns, perfect and glow-worm like in blankets.

It would be easy to think, looking at such benign little beings, that they don’t have it in them to utterly transform someone’s life from top to bottom, but that’s exactly what they do – barging into the world in perhaps the least considerate of manners before demanding all the love and attention that their precious and beautiful little souls deserve.

But despite the fact that our friends – and often our own parents – do their best to warn us about the realities of having kids, few people are truly prepared for the profound change that is unleashed when they start a family. For most, the transition can be a bit of a shock.

Add to this the pressure and worry that comes with having children, and the situation can become a strange and exhausting mixture of stress and elation. Once upon a time you could leave the house without so much as a second thought, but now you need an accessories bag roughly the size of Bermuda and a hefty dose of steely determination. Sleep also becomes a newly fraught activity – mainly in the fact that you’ll never actually get to do it

And it’s not like the never ending advice you can find on the Internet is much help either. Even he most innocuous of activities seems to be met with a chorus of “you shouldn’t be doing that! Do it this way!” and many people seem keen to parent from a distance, with the barrage of advice often becoming confusing and contradictory.

In all the maelstrom, meditation can be one way to find your place of calm, and give you the confidence to forge ahead in the way you think is best.

During Pregnancy

The benefits of meditation and pregnancy can positively influence both mother and baby, as meditation reduces stress hormones which can be picked up on by an unborn child, and it also makes you feel calmer and happier.

Any woman who’s been pregnant will know that hormones and moods can get – well, it’s probably best to say “distinctive” – during pregnancy. Meditation can balance you out, lessening the understandable stresses and worries that come with the prospect of motherhood.

And meditation can be a big help for expectant dads too. It isn’t always easy for soon-to-be fathers and their concerns can often be overlooked. The prospect of a huge life change looms large over every parent, and for men there’s the additional anxiety of seeing their partner and unborn child at this most vulnerable of moments – without being able to do much to help. Meditation can help you keep a lid on their fears, while also giving you the inner strength and stability needed to support your partner.

It Needn’t Take Up Too Much Time

In the hectic weeks after a birth there’s it can be hard to find the time to brush your teeth or wash shampoo out of your hair, so taking out time for meditation seems impossible. However, much like exercise, however much you can do will help. If the baby is off your hands for a little while, 20 minutes of meditation here and there can work wonders.

Feeling Calmer

The “fight or flight” response is our bodies’ evolutionary method for dealing with life-threatening situations, and it sets off in times of stress. However, in the modern world this response is triggered more often than your body is designed to cope with, making your heart beat faster, flooding your system with stress hormones and neglecting non-essential functioning such as digestion to go into emergency mode.

This happens with even small stresses, and there are fewer times in life more stressful than new parenthood. Meditation calms down the area of the brain that initiates the fight or flight response so it reacts more appropriately, and lets you feel more serene.

Your Kids Can Join In

Once your kids get older, meditation is a great habit for them to practice. The ways in which it makes adults calmer and happier works for children too, and picking up such a healthy and beneficial practise early can stand them in good stead throughout their lives.

 

This entry was posted in blog.

Meditation in the Workplace: The Companies Embracing Corporate Wellbeing

Which companies have embraced meditation?

 

For a long time, the tough and competitive world of business wasn’t a place you’d expect meditation to flourish. In an environment where results are key and time is of the essence, the idea of sitting down in the apparently unproductive activity of meditation (although, in reality, it is of course anything but!) could appear to be an alien one. However, as executives, CEOs and media moguls increasingly discuss the virtues of a meditation practice, scepticism is dissipating, and meditation is becoming a growing part of people’s working lives.

Many business leaders are now offering their employees the opportunity to practice Transcendental meditation (otherwise known as Beeja meditation) in the workplace, while others have wholeheartedly embraced mindfulness meditation in an effort to make their companies happier and healthier places to be.

Why are businesses interested in meditation?

There are various reasons for this phenomenon. Perhaps most importantly for the corporate world, there has been increasing scientific evidence for the benefits of meditation, as well as measurable improvements in absenteeism, staff turnover and performance for companies implementing corporate wellbeing programs.

Favourable numbers and proven facts are always going to have more of an impact in the minds of business people than anecdotal evidence, so the fact that the benefits of meditation are becoming ever more quantifiable is perhaps a major factor in its integration into the corporate world.

However, it isn’t only the bottom line which is influencing the wellbeing-based decisions of those within business. There has been increasing awareness both of mental health issues, and of employers corporate responsibility towards the society they operate in. With one in four people now experiencing mental health issues within their lifetime, this is something both business leaders and the people working for them are ever more conscious of.

Which companies have embraced meditation?

Google’s Chade-Meng Tan (who is one of the company’s earliest engineers) runs meditation classes to improve the health and happiness of Google’s employees. He is an avid meditator and claims it facilitates in him inner peace and happiness. His goal is to see every workplace in the world become ‘a drinking fountain for happiness and enlightenment’. Google also launched gPause, an internal online community where employees can share information on meditation books, resources and retreats.

Apple provide meditation rooms and classes for employees. The late Steve Jobs was a massive advocate for meditation and famously allowed workers half an hour each day to meditate as a result of its positive effects on his productivity and well-being.

Ken Powell, former CEO at General Mills, a US-based food company behind products including Cheerios, introduced internal meditation classes for all of its employees. In every building a meditation room can be found.

Yahoo offer employees free meditation classes for in their meditation rooms, in order to improve general well-being of staff and to reduce stress in the workplace. Yahoo were one of the early adopters of meditation for staff.

Procter and Gamble was also an early adopter of meditation, offering workers mediation spaces and a meditation instruction programme. This was thanks to former CEO, Alan Lafley, who stated you have to ‘out-meditation’ a problem.

Twitter co-founder Evan Williams created Medium and dedicated a room in the middle of the office to meditation and yoga. He brought in Will Kabat-Zinn to run several meditation classes each week.

Bridgewater Associates an investment firm run by founder Ray Dalio introduced a four month course in TM for employees who had been at the organisation for six months or longer.  It was more popular than anticipated with many employees meditating twice a day at work. Dalio often attributes much of the success of the company to transcendental meditation.

Nike run meditation courses and workshops for employees, and in particular the innovation team who focus on leading the brand in new directions. These courses are one of the major benefits of working for the global brand. The company also offers relaxation rooms where employees are able to meditate and classes are run to improve the health of its staff.

Medtronic (a medical device company based in the US) also created a room dedicated to meditation. This was a vision of founder Earl Brakken and became a symbol of the company’s dedication to creativity.

TV Production company HBO run weekly meditation and yoga classes for employees to ensure they stay healthy both mentally and physically.

If the above wasn’t striking enough, The BBC, Channel 4, Sony, HSBC, Spotify, IBM, Uber, Toyota, Goldman Sachs and Universal have also embraced meditation within the workplace in an attempt to ensure workers are happy, healthy and well-balanced.

With so many companies embracing meditation, it may be that in the future a huge number of people are introduced to this amazing practice through their workplace – something which can only be a good thing both for the business world and beyond.

This entry was posted in blog.