I Just Can't Meditate!

Linda Conyard

08 April 2022| Personal Growth

"I just can't meditate!"
I have heard this so many times from people frustrated by their meditation efforts.

I have been learning meditation for over 20 years now, and I have tried many different kinds of meditation. My favourite time to meditate is in the early hours of the morning. It is such a beautiful quiet and gentle energy at that time of the day.

BUT…It wasn't always like that. For years I struggled with trying to have a regular meditation practice. In one Buddhist group I belonged to, I mentioned how difficult it was for me to do a morning practice to one of the instructors. She said she used to put her cushion right next to her bed so she would step on it when she got up, which would help her sit and practice. I thought, what an excellent idea. I couldn't possibly avoid that! Diligently, I set up my meditation cushion right next to my bed so I couldn't get up without landing on it and meditating. You guessed it…I became incredibly good at stepping over the meditation cushion. My resistance to sitting on the cushion was very confusing because when I did meditate, I really enjoyed it and the resulting calmness in my mind for the day.

I've noticed many different thoughts on what meditation really is. It can get quite confusing with all the varying points of view.

One of the most common misunderstandings about meditation is trying to stop thoughts. The mind's job is to think! If you attempt to stop the thoughts, you may have noticed they only get louder, stronger, and more frequent. The key is to increase the gap between thoughts, creating a longer and longer space before the next thought arises and not get caught up in any thoughts. Allow them to come and go like the waves rise, come onto the beach and fall back into the ocean. A kind of rhythm comes with imagining waves coming and going if you can align your thoughts with that.

What are you trying to achieve by meditating? I imagine you would be looking for some peace and quiet. "Peace comes from within." Our world is so busy and noisy - where do we have the chance to sit quietly and just be?

Here's a simple meditation practice you can try:
  • Find a space where you won't be interrupted.
  • ​You will need a meditation cushion or chair, where you can keep your back straight.
  • ​Early morning is an excellent time to meditate.
  • ​Start with 10 minutes and stay with this amount of time until you naturally feel you can increase it.
  • ​Wear loose-fitting clothing, so you are comfortable.
  • ​Take your time to get into a comfortable position.
  • ​The ideal posture is sitting on a meditation cushion with your legs crossed and your hips tilted forward. This helps to keep your back straight. If this is not possible for you, try sitting in a chair (one that allows a straight back).
  • ​Place your hands on your thighs, palms up. This positioning helps to keep the back straight.
  • ​Relax your shoulders.
  • ​Check that your jaw is relaxed because we often hold tension here.
  • ​Eyes can be closed, and if this is not comfortable for you, you can look down your nose and lower your gaze to a point on the floor.
  • ​Focus lightly on your breathing.
  • ​Bring your attention to the tip of your nostrils and notice the air flowing in and out. On your next exhale, count 1, next time you exhale, count 2 until you reach 7. Remember to focus on this lightly, not intently; the idea is to feel relaxed. Once you get to 7, start again at 1. Continue doing this cycle for 10 minutes.
  • ​If you are getting distracted and losing count, decrease the cycle number to 3 or 4 and then return to 1. As you become more comfortable with the practice, increase at your own pace up to 7. Every time your mind starts to wander, just come back to your breath and begin again.
You will likely notice your mind is very busy with a thousand thoughts racing around your head. This is very normal, and the more often you sit, the easier it becomes.

This simple counting practice may not be so simple when your mind takes you off on a tangent. It will probably remind you of the massive list of things you should be doing instead of sitting practicing meditation. Don't worry, as soon as you recognize you are not present to your breath, just start again, bringing your mind back to your counting cycle.

Once you get a taste of the relaxation meditating brings, it may be more inviting to take some time for yourself.

If you get to try this practice, I'd love to hear how you went.

May you be well, may you be happy, and may you have inner peace

Linda

About The Author

Linda Conyard has a Master of Gestalt Psychotherapy, is a Family Constellations Facilitator, and specialises in Trauma Recovery and Transgenerational Trauma Issues in private practice. Linda is an Amici Mortis (friend of the dying) and has studied Contemplative End-of-life care, Midwifing Death, and volunteered with Karuna Hospice from 2007-2021. She is very passionate about Trauma Sensitive Practices becoming part of all major systems, including health, education, justice, and government.

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