If you were to ask me the top five things you can do to improve your mental and emotional health, meditating would absolutely be on the list. Meditation has so many incredible benefits, yet when I talk with clients, friends, and family, a lot of people are pretty slow to get on board.
And my guess is, the majority of you haven’t quite gotten on board either. So what gives? Science has repeatedly touted the benefits of meditation, yet you’re still not practicing on the regular.
My guess is that you’re using one (or more) of the excuses below. So let’s figure out why you’re not meditating and what you can do to get started!
Reason #1: “I don’t have time.”
I get it, you’re busy. And the thought of adding yet another thing to your day sounds daunting. Maybe it’s daunting because you’re expecting yourself to meditate for 30 minutes at a time. Who said you have to do it for 30 minutes? There’s no minimum when it comes to meditating. 5 minutes is better than zero minutes, so don’t be afraid to start small.
If the thought of finding five minutes to meditate sounds daunting, think of all the spaces in your day where you spend five minutes doing some else. Scrolling through social media, waiting for your coffee to brew, sitting in the carpool line at your kid’s school. Look carefully at your day. There are pockets of time just waiting to be used for meditation.
Two minutes of meditating is more than you’re doing now, so start there.
Reason #2: “It’s too hard; I can’t clear my mind.”
I hear this one a lot, especially when clients first try meditation. And here’s my very blunt response. Of course it’s hard, it’s new to you. At some point, crawling was hard for you. So was tying your shoes and doing long division. But with practice, you got better. Meditation is the same way.
And for those of you who say you can’t clear your mind, great news. The goal isn’t to clear your mind. That’s an absolute myth. The goal of meditation is to practice focusing your attention. And when your brain wanders off and gets distracted, your just refocus your attention. Over and over and over.
Our brains are complex and active, and sometimes meditation can feel like herding cats. That’s normal. You’re learning something new; be patient when it feels hard.
Reason 3: “I don’t think it will really help.”
Quick story. Years ago, I was doing physical therapy for a back injury. My physical therapist had given me a set of exercises to do at home, in between appointments. They gave me several back exercises, as well as lunges and a few other seemingly unrelated exercises. After several weeks, my physical therapist called me out and said, “You’re not doing all the exercises are you?” I got a little sassy with him, saying that I was doing the back exercises but not the leg ones, given that, you know, it’s my back that’s injured.
He wheeled the life-size skeleton over to the treatment table, asking me to watch the lower back area. He moved the legs in a lunge position, and with a smirk, he pointed out how the muscles in the back were also moving. “Now will you do them?” I saw his point and sheepishly grinned. From then on, I started doing all of the exercises.
You see, I’m one of those people that needs to understand why I’m doing something. I need to know how it’s going to be helpful. And once I do, I’m totally in! You need to know the why and how before you agree to really give it go.
You probably “know” that meditation is good for you, but you don’t fully know just how much it can help. If this is your excuse for not meditating, take some time to read the research. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as increase awareness, happiness, and optimism.
If you find yourself wishing there were a proven way to feel calmer, less stressed, happier, and more optimistic, guess what? There is. Meditation.
It’s free, painless, side effect free, and it can be done nearly anywhere. So what do you think; are you willing to give it a try? If you want to start meditating, I recommend you start with an app. Check out my reviews of my two favorite meditation apps, Calm and Headspace.
PS: I also love this FAQ page about meditating from Zen Habits.
Don’t wait to meditate anymore. Start today.