What I hear most often from clients and students, is that they can’t meditate. 

They say that they sucked at it and couldn’t seem to get the hang of it so they gave up. The title of this post is a little misleading, because truly you can’t fail at meditating unless you give up. Then of course you failed but only because you stopped trying.

The biggest misconception new meditators have is that meditation is supposed to be this ultra-relaxed experience in a field somewhere while dressed in white yoga clothes as the sun rises and morning dew fills the air with a rainbow shining down on you. 

Yeah, right.

The reality is of course a far cry from that.

It can be a mix of a busy mind, uncomfortable body, and then berating yourself for not “doing” it right, then leading to frustration and disenchantment.

I personally have had some lovely meditations that are free and feel good, but most of them are really about adjusting my mindset to accept everything that is going “wrong” and be open to the experience anyways.

Here’s 5 tips to help you with your meditation practice:

1) Meditating is not about having a specific experience.
Most people when they start meditating complain that they aren’t good at it. Meaning: they aren’t having what they perceive to be meditative experience like a quiet blissed out mind. I have been meditating for many years and every time is different. Sometimes they have lovely qualities to them, and sometimes they are simply being with my unruly mind for the whole meditation. Meditating is not about “getting somewhere” it’s about “being here.” Whatever that here is.

2) Have the attitude that everything is already okay. 
Start your meditation with the attitude that everything is already okay. The discomfort in your body, your busy mind, the feelings that are anything but Zen-like, it’s all okay. Rather than judging, or fighting what’s showing up, take on the attitude that everything you notice (even the sore hips, and chattering mind) are just objects in your awareness. Nothing good, or bad, just what’s here. This is time for you to sit, and let everything be, and trust that you don’t need to do anything about it. It’s all just what being a human being in this body is like today, and that it’s alright.

3) Do your time and don’t evaluate how you thought it went.
Sit, set your timer, and do the work. When the timer goes, let go of evaluating your meditation. It doesn’t matter. Like any practice, it’s not about getting it right, it’s about actually doing it.

4) Relaxation and releasing anxiety are the by-products of meditation, not the goal during it.
You may not feel relaxed at all during every meditation. On occasion it might feel like you are just putting in time. That’s totally fine. Your aim is to create a relaxed state to hold the experience so it’s not a problem, it’s just what’s here. The by-product of a consistent meditation practice over time is a more relaxed way of being in the world and less anxiety (increased happiness too!). 

5) Consistency is more important than length.
I personally don’t have an hour or more a day to sit in meditation, I do have 20 minutes though. Just like working out, it’s not the 3 hour workout once a month that’s going to change your body, it’s the regular 30 minutes that will give you results. Regular practice is always more important than perfect. You can do this!

I’d like to hear from you now! Do you meditate? What other tips would you recommend to someone just starting out? If you want to meditate, but haven’t gotten a regular practice yet, what are your biggest pitfalls? Share your insights below.

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