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Meditation 101

How To Overcome Barriers To Meditation

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I fall asleep

Try walking meditation. A walking meditation uses the same technique as a sitting meditation: you focus inward, and let go of other thoughts as they appear. 

  • Look for a quiet, flat area where you can walk without being disturbed. Preferably find a spot where you can comfortably walk at least 20 steps before you have to turn around.
  • While standing quietly, take a deep breath. Then slowly let it out.  Repeat two more times to quiet yourself. Focus on your breathing while you take these breaths.
  • Then start walking slowly along your designated path. 
  • As you walk, pay attention to your walking and the sensations you feel. For instance:
    • Start with the sensation in each foot as it lifts off the ground, then as it moves through the air, then as it comes back down onto the ground.
    • Feel the ground in your feet and toes. 
    • Observe how the muscles of each leg tighten and how they relax as you move.
  • Let go of other thoughts as they come into your mind.

I am too restless to meditate

Try walking meditation as described in the section above.

I don't have time

Set a minimal amount of time each day to meditate. For instance, 10 minutes - or even 5 minutes if necessary. Preferably do these short meditations 2 or 3 times a day.

Meditating daily is more important than the amount of time you meditate. 

Once meditation becomes a part of your regular routine, you may find time to extend your sessions, or to limit your time meditating to one longer session.

My mind won't be quiet. Chatter won't stop.

It is so normal for the mind to jump from subject to subject that it even has a name: "Monkey mind".

Recognize the chatter for what it is: thoughts. Thoughts are self generated. They do not come in from the outside.

Try the following:

  1. Step 1. Don't fight the thoughts. Let thoughts come in.
  2. Step 2. Observe the thoughts for what they are. Then let them go.
  3. Step 3. Keep returning your focus to whatever you are meditating on - such as your breathing (or walking sensations if you are doing a walking meditation).

I need variety 

Try different means of meditating.

The key is to focus on what you are doing and to let go of all other thoughts. Every activity can be a meditation. For example, washing dishes can be a meditation if you focus on your body's movements and sensations as you do the activity.

I cannot find a quiet place to meditate.

Consider making the sounds you hear the focus of your meditation. Don't think about where the sounds come from (unless, of course, one of the sounds signals danger). If you find yourself wondering about the source of the sound, return your thoughts to just hearing the sound(s).

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