This week in Tricycle’s Meditation Month, I asked if people minded sharing what their biggest hurdle was to consistent meditation practice, and how they manage to overcome it (if at all!)
Here are the top 10 answers I received:
Emails and to do lists are my biggest hurdle. I have a daily reminder on my phone to alert me to meditate at my preferred time. When it shows up on my phone it helps me let go of my distractions and sit.
Finding the Time
I remember to choose quality, not quantity. This morning I had a lot to do so I took 5 minutes. Some days I take longer when I have more time.
That will yank one out of meditation like nothing else! But I have found breathing through hot flushes, provided I’m wearing clothing that’s not too hot, has helped me deal with them.
I know from when I did have a very regular practice in the past, consistent meditation helped me deal with the pain better. I’m recommitting myself. Difficult emotions are also hard – I just left an abusive relationship so I have lots of those.
I’m OK if I get a routine going, but I have difficulty handling disruptions to my routine; for example, travel. I now try to treat meditation like brushing your teeth, I have to do that first thing every day, so I hope that will encourage my new habit.
My Own Expectations
I am my biggest obstacle. Wanting to do a “full sit” (40 min) plus 25 min of pranayama (breath work) before, and some yoga, keeps me from feeling I have the time for my practice. Recently, I have set the bar low. 7 minutes to start, increasing 1 minute a day, with just 5 minutes of pranayama. It makes it accessible and gets me back in the routine.
Am I doing it right?
For me, it was always lack of time and lack of direction – I felt unsure about what I was doing when I sat, was I doing it right? I overcame this by choosing a length of time that seemed manageable (10 minutes to start), a time of day that was tied to routine not actual time (I sit before breakfast, no matter what time that is) and seeking support. Joining a local insight group has been a great comfort, and I told my friends and family about my plan to commit to daily practice and asked them to help me if I started to lose motivation. 1 year and 2 months in, daily sitting now feels natural and habitual.
Sitting is no problem when life is smooth sailing, it’s sitting when life is stormy that gets me. I start to doubt my ability to change and grow, and in a self-fulfilling prophecy I then start avoiding the very things that lead to growth (like sitting, healthy habits, avoiding substances etc). I’ve grown more aware of my patterns, which helps me notice them and not get sucked into them… still a work in progress!
Have I been sitting long enough? When I use a timer I find myself distracted by thinking it should ring soon. I stopped using a timer and now just sit for however long is right for that moment. Sometimes it’s 10 minutes, sometimes 40, but I’ve let go of worrying about it. However long I sit is right for me.
The Imaginary Hurdle
The biggest hurdle is thinking there’s a hurdle to overcome – just do it – 10 minutes a day – be consistent and the “hurdle” will soon fade away.
Personally, I sometimes find it hard to get up early enough before work to sit. However, when I don’t practice, I really notice it later on in the day! I also have a habit of self punishment when I miss sessions which I am really working on. This week, if I’ve been running late, I’ll meditate at my desk – even 10 seconds of breath work is enough before I kick start the day. It doesn’t have to be obvious either, just some mindful breathing with a cup of tea.
Keep up your practice, and rest assured that you aren’t the only one who faces meditation hurdles. 😌🙏