I work predominantly online these days. My work as a freelance writer and gambling expert is rewarding, but the potential for stress and burnout is never far away. During 2020 especially, I’ve benefited immensely from my own mindfulness practice. I remember, several years ago, when I was first beginning to practice meditation that I had a lot of preconceptions about what meditation was.
Looking back now, I realise that these preconceptions could often get in the way. This post will outline some of the roadblocks that I see many meditation beginners encountering. Understanding these blocks will make it easier to overcome them.
It’s Not Thinking About Nothing
My own ideas of what meditation came from the films I’d watched and popular media I’d consumed. This gives a strong impression that meditation is the art of “thinking about nothing”. The reality is that this simply isn’t the case. Have you ever tried to think about nothing? That’s literally impossible. While there are many specific branches of meditation that are far too varied and complex to discuss here, “thinking of nothing” is found in precisely none of them.
Mindfulness meditation, especially in the beginning, is about refocusing attention, not “thinking of nothing”.
Getting Distracted Isn’t a Bad Thing
Reframing your mind isn’t an easy process. One of the most crucial things to remember is that getting distracted while meditating doesn’t mean you’re failing. When you catch your mind wandering, the idea is to gently refocus your attention on the task at hand. Over time, this process will train your mind to be calmer and less reactive, but it’s important to not beat yourself up when thoughts distract you!
There is no Right Way to Meditate
I remember getting distracted by this thought all the time when first starting to mediate. I’d find myself constantly wondering if I was doing the exercise “correctly”. I ended up spending more time thinking about the exercise than actually doing the exercise itself! Provided you’re approaching your mindfulness exercises with sincerity and openness, it’s not worth the effort of analysing your behaviour. This will only lead you down a path that is not conducive to mindful practice.
You Can Meditate While Doing Things
Do you tend to think of meditation as a thing that monks do high in the mountains while chanting? You’re not alone. While sitting still with your eyes closed is one of the most common manifestations of mindfulness meditation, it’s far from the only way to do it. You can meditate while on a walk, doing the dishes or anything in between. As long as you’re staying mindful and focussing your attention on a simple task, you’re all good.
If you remember one thing from this post, it should be that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Mindfulness isn’t a quick fix option for a busy mind; it’s a long, gradual process that should last a lifetime. With patience and persistence, you’ll be chanting in the hills in no time!