Why Meditation Is So Hard
Make your 2019 meditation practice stick with tips that actually work.
We’ve all been there—we set out to create a meditation routine and wonder why we abandon it within a few weeks. Why does it feel so challenging to add meditation to our daily lives, especially when we know it will have big benefits to our health? (Hint: it’s not because you’re not good at it.)
Meditation stereotypes tell us that this practice should happen on a round cushion surrounded by crystals, and will leave us in a total state of bliss. The reality is, creating a habit of any kind is no easy feat and these preconceived notions of what meditation “should” look like don’t make it feel any more accessible. Yes, meditating can be tricky, but science shows the juice is worth the squeeze.
Just a few minutes of mindful meditation activates our parasympathetic nervous system and helps to maintain a calm state of mind.
— Chrissy Abram, mindfulness expert and Saje team member
Chrissy says there is often is a lot of confusion around what meditation actually is. She breaks it down like this: meditation is simply a mindful awareness. “You can mindfully meditate on the sensations of walking, washing dishes, or eating a cookie. You can meditate anywhere, for any period of time, with the only requirement being sustained attention,” says Chrissy.
We’re here to reframe the myths around meditation and give you practical ways to incorporate meditation into your routine, regardless of where your day takes you. Read on for the facts about meditation and how to make it a lasting habit in 2019.
Fact #1: You don’t need to leave your home to meditate
Meditation studios and retreats have multiplied lately, and we’re in love with the calm energy and guidance they offer. But, their increased popularity may have you thinking meditation requires you to leave the comforts of your home. Good news—this isn’t the case.
You can experience the benefits of meditation from your home (Don’t want to get out of your PJs? No problem!). We recommend creating a special spot that’s free from distractions like the TV, your to-do list, your kids and your phone. Once you find your spot, clear the clutter and make the space conducive to calming your mind.
Tune out distractions and tune into your breath with the Yoga Transition Mist.
Fact #2: You don’t need a lot of time to meditate
Why do so many of our well-intended habits fall to the wayside? The resounding reason is time, and specifically that many of us feel like we have a lack of it. The truth is that you can meditate effectively for hours on a beach in Bali, or for five minutes on the bus—both work and will create a positive impact on your state of mind.
It’s not the minutes clocked that matter, but rather, the intention. With that in mind, know that you can tune into your mindful meditation practice at any point in your day. This can look like pausing to roll on a favourite remedy, writing down three things you are grateful for or just taking some deep breaths.
Fact #3: You don’t have to be sitting still to meditate
Calling all fidgeters and restless souls—meditating doesn’t have to be a practice of stillness. Because mindful meditation is simply an intentional awareness, it can really be done anywhere, so you’re free to roam. You can practice a walking meditation where you move slowly and continuously while tuning into your breath and surroundings.
While a walk over lunch will do, finding time to be in nature helps to quiet a busy mind on a whole extra level. Forest bathing, sometimes called shinrin-yoku, is the practice of bathing in the outdoors through our senses. Research shows this practice has real health benefits including stress relief, a boost in energy and an increase in mental clarity. Check out our podcast episode about the benefits of being in nature to learn more about forest bathing from experts in the field (no pun intended).
No time to get outside? Chrissy also advocates for bringing mindful awareness to your existing movement practice: “Whether your meditation practice is on a bolster, a bike or a trail, we are in the practice of carving out time to express gratitude to our mind and body by exercising it.”
Ease yourself into a meditative state through the sights and sounds of nature.
Fact #4: You don’t need silence to meditate
We get it—silence is golden, but it also leaves lots of room for our thoughts to run wild. Sound-based meditation practices have been popping up that use sound as a tool to help slow the chatter in your brain. Sound baths are becoming increasingly popular for both newbie meditators and seasoned practitioners. This practice employs a variety of sounds—drums, chimes, bowls, and sometimes singing—as vehicles for bringing you into a relaxed, meditative state.
In her recent experience at the In goop Health wellness summit, Saje team member, Meghann tried (and loved) sound meditation and described the experience like this: “Waves of sound that shimmered off the walls and resonated in our minds created a sense of inner calm I had only really heard about. My mind was going off with images and memories, colours and sounds that passed through and away like a lucid dream. This half-awake, calm state lingered well after the lights came up and we all quietly flowed out of the room.” Don’t be afraid to get a little loud—your mind just might feel better for it.
Fact #5: You don’t have to meditate alone
Forming habits is hard and sometimes you need a little help from your friends when you want to throw in the towel. Although some say meditation is a solo sport, there are ways to engage a supportive community to make this practice last.
We love apps like Headspace because they make meditation accessible and allow you to create a digital accountability buddy. Through the “add a buddy” feature, you can invite a friend to join you on your meditation journey and provide each other with support along the way. If you’ve skipped a few days, your buddy can even give you a little nudge of encouragement to keep going.
And although you can meditate at home, checking out a meditation studio might be just the thing. Surrounding yourself with a community can work wonders when it comes to changing your habits.
It’s possible that in these final festive days of 2018, you have your sights set on setting some healthy new habits for the new year. Whether your intention is tied to meditation, running, financial or spiritual wellness, remember that setting habits is challenging. Give yourself the space to slip up and be patient with yourself. If the habit serves you, it will inevitably stick.
And if you need a little more encouragement, check out our wellness book roundup for some research, tips, tricks and methods on how to create your best life. Happy habit-forming!