Some yogis will, some yogis won’t. A regular meditation practice, even after years of having a yoga practice, isn’t always easy. I myself can get rather creative when it comes to skipping practice. Wanna know some of my favorite evasion thoughts? “My knees hurt when I rode my bike today, so I won’t be able to sit on the floor. I’m hungry. It’s too bright outside. I need to call my mom. Construction work at this time of day?” You name it, I’ve used it.
But why? After all, when we meditate, we often have the best ideas, our headspace feels less cluttered with old, repetitive thoughts and afterwards, we probably go about our day with more purpose and patience. So why is it so hard to get started or even stick to a practice? I thought about this (again, probably during a meditation) and examined all the things that made meditation harder both in the beginnings but even today occasionally. Here are some remedies to cure the meditation blues.
1. Have a Seat
When I teach beginners’ yoga, I spend the first 15 minutes getting everybody to sit comfortably on the floor. This process can require quite a bit of rearranging, building, shifting this way and that. Especially men tend to find it extremely difficult to sit cross-legged and/or on the floor. So we slide blocks under their knees, try hero’s pose (sitting on your heels), even stack several blocks, so there’s more freedom in the knees and hip flexors. What I’m trying to say is, find that seat! Take as much time as you need. Take a chair! I don’t care if you have arthritic knees or ants in your pants, there is a seat for you and once you find it, you’ll be able to maintain that position.
2. Blinded by the Light
This one is just too simple. If you, like me, live in a part of the world where summer daylight hours range from 4 am to 10 pm, it can get quite bright out there (not to mention if you’re living in Scandinavia!). So grab that sleep mask or a comfy shawl and cover your eyes. Or if you find, keeping your eyes closed is just too difficult, sometimes even giving you a headache, just keep them a slight bit open, thereby relaxing fluttering eyelids.
3. Pencil me in
If you and your partner, family, work staff share the same calendar, why not make it official? Talk about social accountability, here’s a great way to broadcast that you are going to commit to a meditation practice. After all, we pencil in doctor’s appointments, dinner with friends, child care. Why not our meditation time? Set a reminder while you’re at it and never forget to take that time for yourself. Adding this time slot to your ical or outlook has the extra benefit of scheduling the practice at the same time every day, which will also make it easier to establish a suitable meditation time that fits your daily schedule!
4. Carry a Tune
What if I just can’t stand the sound of silence or I live in a crowded or loud neighborhood? Do not fret! There are so many meditation apps out there, where shall I begin? I like Calm, where you can take your pick of different nature sounds and sceneries. Insight Timer is also handy. It allows you to time your meditation, pick interval sounds to let you know where you are in between, and gentle sounds (I like the singing bowls), to end the meditation. A student of mine suggested Headspace, which has fun graphics and lets you meditate on certain areas of your life, such as relationships or anxiety. What he likes about it, is the fact that there wasn’t too much “spiritual stuff” as he liked to put it. Lastly, let’s not forget Spotify, which has a sheer endless bouquet of meditation and Chakra/Healing Music as well as famous Yoginis’, i.e. Tara Stiles’ favorite playlist! If you use your earphones, even better to shut the world out for the time being.
5. Guide your way home
Many times, especially as beginners, we’re just not sure yet what we’re meant to be doing or maybe we’ve already taken so many meditation classes, we’re starting to get confused about which ones are right for us that day. Again, coming back to basics, is the way to go. Find a guided meditation. Check out your app store for countless free apps, visit your favorite yoga blog for inspiration or find podcasts by the spiritual teachers you follow anyway! I like some of Gabby Bernstein’s “Letting go” and “Forgiveness” material, for example. Also, the Kundalinis feature a whole bunch of invigorating, more active meditations. They’re just a YouTube click away! If you want to record your own voice on your voice memo app, some of my favorite meditations for the big stuff in life (and death) can be found in Stephen Levine’s book Healing into Life and Death. Finally, some great ways to use our smartphones!
6. Repeat after me
Before you decide a certain technique really isn’t working for you, give it a few days. In many yoga traditions, yogis find that sticking to a ritual for at least 21 days, is the way to break ourselves into new habits. Think about it, the most comfortable pair of jeans, didn’t become that by being worn once or twice, then getting tossed into the Oxfam bag. No, we wore those things mercilessly, over and over, washing them (or not), driving, traveling, sitting anywhere until they felt like a second skin.
Before they become part of our tradition, we need to practice rituals for a while. If after, let’s say, 21 days you still feel the technique just isn’t doing it for you, find something else. Or, maybe, come back to the good ole’ focusing on the in-and exhale for a while.
Feel free to share in the comments below, if these tricks were helpful or maybe you have some of your own hacks and apps you’d like to share. Lemme know!