When you’re plagued by anxiety, meditation can feel like the least possible thing in the world. For those of you who are interested in meditation or its benefits, but don’t think you’re capable, this post is for you.
Some misconceptions about meditation:
I should be able to quiet my mind completely.
That sounds like an impossible standard to live up to… so don’t. In meditation, the idea is to work towards a quieter mind, which develops over time as we begin to strengthen our ability to observe the patterns and activity of the mind. The mind’s job is to think. You’re not going to put it out of a job completely. You’re just going to give it a chance to work more effectively, wasting less time and energy on unhelpful looping, spiraling, or worrying.
It will change my life immediately. It’s like taking a magic pill.
I suppose it’s possible that you could feel immediate results from a single meditation, but its real power comes from regular practice over time at a pace that works for you. Eventually a single meditation can be extremely powerful, but in my experience, the act of showing up for yourself on a regular basis is far more effective than any single meditation.
It’s for people who are into spirituality, mindfulness, religion, or other things that I’m not into.
There are lots of different ways to practice meditation, and they’re not all mystical. At the heart of meditation is a super simple practice, scientifically proven to be effective, and requiring no belief in a higher power.
I don’t have time.
90 seconds of breathwork is enough to shift the state of your nervous system. If you try 3×3 meditation, that’s 3 minutes 3 times a day. It’s definitely possible to find a method that works for your schedule. Plus, meditation generally makes you feel more at ease with time, less rushed.
I can’t meditate. I won’t be good at it.
The only way to fail at meditation is to fail to show up. This is not something you can be good or bad at. It’s just something you do or don’t do. Here’s the part where you can get good at something: practicing meditation over time can help you build certain skills. Some of the skills you might get good at are: non-attachment, observation of thought patterns and mental activity, acceptance, understanding, love, attention span & attention quality, and the ability to choose where your mind goes. (For instance, staying in the present, wandering into the future, or harping on the past.) There are more benefits, but that’s enough to get started with.
5 things to try
if you think you can’t meditate
Now that you know that you can’t do it wrong… try one (or all) of these!
- Mantra repetition with a mala
- 3×3 meditation – that’s 3-minute meditations 3 times/day
- Guided Visualization Meditations
- Guided Mindfulness Meditations