Below are the most common meditation distractions I keep hearing from students. Unfortunately, the majority of the time this keeps them from continuing their practices or even beginning one in the first place. However, the majority of people experience these and given effort and patience, they can be overcome.
1| Mind wandering.
We meditate in order to have more control over our minds. Most of us have lost control over our thoughts. We give power to whatever arises in our head. We attach emotional meaning to them and allow our actions to be based on these feelings, instead of understanding the root causes of our thoughts. This is why one minute we are happy reminiscing on good times and the next minute we are sad thinking of an upsetting event in our life. We are completely vulnerable to our thoughts, letting them take over our mood and the way we interact with others. If this is how we operate on a daily basis, then we cannot expect that all of that will go away the instant we sit down to meditate. Thoughts will drift in and out of your mind. This is normal. Keep practicing bringing your mind to one point of focus. Then, you will start building the habit of choosing which thoughts you give your energy to and which ones are creating barriers to your progress, eventually letting go of all thoughts but the one you are concentrating on during your meditation.
2| Outside noise.
Unless you live in a remote and isolated place, it’s hard to escape outside noise. I live in a place where there are garbage trucks rolling by, landscapers using blowers and mowers, kids playing in the street, dogs barking, and police sirens and fire trucks racing by at any time. And for a while, every time I would sit down to meditate a neighbor chose to use a power tool to fix something in the garage or a group of walkers taking an evening stroll would happen to stop under my window for a conversation. But outside noise isn’t really about outside noise; it’s more about how we allow it to affect us. The real distractions are coming from inside our heads. Despite all of these sounds, I have been able to quiet my mind and not let it disturb my concentration. With a steady practice, you will also be able to tune out any noises. Over time, these sounds will lose their significance. A couple of tips to get you started:
- You have control over when you meditate. Choose a time of day when it’s the most quiet, for example, early morning or right before you go to sleep.
- Wear earplugs while meditating to make it quieter.
Manifest Your Meditation Routine
A FREE 6-week course to help you start a meditation practice. Each week receive a new lesson filled with inspirational prompts & practical guides to build a meditation routine.
3| Inability to unplug.
There was a time in my life not so long ago (last year) that I went completely without Internet at home. Whenever I would share this with folks, I noticed the panic in their eyes and the shock in their faces. We are so used to our digital devices that even the mention of stepping away from them creates nervousness. That’s a problem, but I get it. Here are some tips to slowly start moving away from our digital dependency during our meditation practice:
- If you are using your phone or computer in support of your meditation, for example as a timer or to play a guided meditation, would another device work as well? Can you use a clock or a watch instead? Can you place your computer away from you during the guided meditation part and set it so that it automatically stops playing once it’s done (instead of jumping to the next track or video)?
- Put your phone in another room and place it on vibrate so that if someone calls or texts, you are less likely to hear it. Lay it on something soft, like your bed or on the carpet, so that if it vibrates, it won’t make as much of a noise. And most of all, try not to think about if someone is trying to get a hold of you. Your phone will be there when you are done. You are supposed to be meditating!
SO much to say about this topic, but I will keep it concise here. We need a different model in which to live our lives. We need a new structure to the way we live on a daily basis because this one isn’t working with stress increasing, depression on the rise, and loneliness hitting an all time high. Once you start making meditation a regular part of your life, changes will automatically begin to happen. You will naturally start making time for it by saying no to other things, by being more organized, productive, intentional, and finding joy in just sitting and being. Until this happens, you have to be disciplined and prioritize your meditation routine. Schedule it in as you would any other commitment. Do you want to be happy? Of course! We all do! This is the way to find inner happiness, the kind not dependent on anything outside of ourselves. Wouldn’t you move that to the top of your to-do list? More on this topic, here: 3 Ways To Make Spirituality A Priority Every Day And here: Why You Can’t Maintain A Meditation Practice Also, here: The Most Important Part Of Meditation No One Talks About
5| Unrealistic expectations.
I feel sort of bad for the way meditation gets introduced to people. Those who meditate are in praise and have nothing but accolades of it, tooting the benefits of the practice. All true and good, helping motivate others to also make it a part of their lives. But, those who are new to it then start meditating with the expectation that they will immediately feel what their friend, brother, and aunt are feeling, and that’s just not going to happen without a consistent and patient practice (see laziness above). Yes, of course you will feel some positive effects of it right away. However, if you want to see real changes in yourself, you have to create a practice that is right for you. I feel so strongly about this that I help people Create Your Own Meditation Practice. Some things to keep in mind:
- Start where you are, not where you think you should be. If you’ve never meditated before, even beginning with a 10-minute practice is going to be tough. Instead, start with a 1-minute practice. Get comfortable with that before increasing your time.
- Schedule meditation into your existing daily routine, so that you do not have to create big changes in order to meditate.
- Find a meditation routine that resonates with you.