Does any piece of the following sound familiar? You found a quiet space with a nice vibe and, for the next few minutes, you don't have shit to do. Maybe you roll out a mat or throw down a meditation cushion; assuming the proper meditation position. Ok, it's a bit uncomfortable for your knees... and groin... and back... and self-esteem... and your not really sure what to do with your hands... But, this is how the beautiful, happy, peaceful woman on the cover of the magazine was doing it, so it must be essential. Damn, you forgot to light the incense! Get up. Light. Start over.
Ok, you are back and ready to go! Deep breath... in... out. Shit; forgot to hit start on the app. Take Two... in... out... in... out. Thoughts of: "Ahhhh, this is nice. This isn't too hard. I really need to do this everyday. I wish I could domesticate a chipmunk." Wait, what was that? It's ok, focus. "Feeling grounded... shoulders relaxing... belly rising... belly falling... ok, now I've got it... my foot is asleep... I need to get detergent on the way home... why do we have fingernails?" Aaaaaaaaaaaah, I suck at this! I'm clearly just not the meditating type. Lets address some of the most common issues for beginners.
"I can't stop the thoughts."
Often, people tell me that they have tried meditating before, but they couldn't clear their mind; the thoughts just kept coming. So let's start with the great news: Not only are the thoughts not a problem; they are actually essential to the process. Ultimately, we are attempting to develop the ability to direct our attention where we want it and then maintain that focus. The more often we practice the intentional act of directing our thoughts, the better we become at doing so. Therefore, the random clutter that pops into our minds during meditation is actually an endless stream of opportunities to practice redirection. No divergent thoughts, no practice.
"There are too many distractions."
The barking dog. The people talking in the hallway. That smell... honestly, what the hell did that dude eat for lunch? It can be so easy to feel derailed by our environment when we are meditating. We want so badly for the experience to be peaceful, relaxing and exactly like it appears in your Instagram feed. Occasionally, you will have those seemingly ideal moments; but they are generally few and far between. It is important to remember that, like our thoughts, these external stimuli are simply part of the process and an opportunity to practice. Mindfulness meditation is a formal practice that helps us integrate mindfulness into the remainder of our lives (informal practice). If we need a perfectly calm and stimulus-free environment to be mindful, our lives and environment will dominate us. Embrace the flavor of the environment in that given moment.
"I can't get comfortable."
If you cannot manage to get comfortable with your legs crossed, you simply will never be doing it right. Ok, that's not true... at all. All the seated positions that are so commonly associated with meditating are great... for some people. For others, a better option may be sitting in a chair, standing, doing yoga, lying down or even walking. If what you are doing is uncomfortable, don't do it. Just be sure that whatever you choose, allows you to stay awake, be attentive to what is happening and reflects your commitment to the practice.
Here is the thing; you cannot suck at meditating. So long as you have the proper intention, you are doing damn well. Next...
"I don't have time."
"You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day - unless you're too busy. Then you should sit for an hour." - Zen proverb
Some of the world's busiest individuals find time to sit for 45+ minutes per day, without exception. We can all certainly find 5, 10, 15 minutes to pencil in some nothingness. I assure you, there IS time and there IS a way to make it happen. Wake up 10 minutes earlier, cut out some TV, shorten a workout, do it during your lunch break, do it before bed (not ideal), get to work early and sit in the car, etc... If you make it a priority, you will find a way to incorporate it into your life.
In short, please do not get frustrated when you are first getting started. Make the time, find a comfortable position that works for you, bring the right intention and repeat. There are countless guided meditations available online for free that can really help out, especially in the beginning. Also, understand that it will take practice and commitment; just like any other skill or ability we have developed thus far. I assure you.. you can do this.