When You Just Can't Meditate
When you just can't meditate. The best news is, not feeling like you can meditate is a GREAT key to unlock the door to… meditating!
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First of all, hurrah! Congratulations – you’re here. That’s more than half the battle. And the best news is, not feeling like you can meditate is a GREAT key to unlock the door to… meditating!
Stay with me.
Set a timer for 3 minutes.
If you can sit down, please do – preferably with your back unsupported, unless you have back problems.
If you can’t sit, no problem. Stand with both feet on the floor, holding something (the back of a chair, a countertop) for balance.
If standing still feels impossible, you might want to check out our walking meditation exercise, which is very helpful for moments like these.
Now. Let’s talk, without judgment, about what it is that is stopping you from being able to meditate. Is it anger? Even rage? Is it anxiety? The feeling that you have to DO something about a situation? Is it deep grief? Whatever it is, say it out loud.
“I’m feeling _______.”
“I can’t meditate because ________.”
“It’s too hard to meditate when I feel ________.”
If you can, notice the feelings that are arising as you talk. Pay attention to the sensations in your stomach, your chest, and your neck. It might take a while to notice these, and that’s perfectly okay. Keep naming your blocks to meditation until you’ve named them all.
I’m going to guess one of the most prominent feelings is the feeling of “I don’t want to.” That is legitimate and important! What does it feel like to not want to meditate? Where do you feel it in your body? Does it have a texture? A color? A temperature? Is there a resistance to feeling it?
What does that resistance feel like? Keep making your circle of awareness wider and wider. Notice the feelings/thoughts of:
“I don’t want to do this.”
“This isn’t going to work.”
“I’m not supposed to feel this way.”
See if you can experience what it might be like to breathe into these feelings. To simply allow yourself to not want to meditate… without running away from the emotion. See if you can locate the resistance in your body. Can you allow it, even for a few moments, to be where it is? Can you notice what it feels like now?
If your timer has gone off – congratulations. You’ve just meditated.
When we’re learning to lift weights at the gym, we start small and build up. It’s the same with meditation.
You are training as a warrior, becoming more and more capable of being with our discomfort and our lack of “solid ground” to stand on. When we face our blocks, and stop resisting them, this is training. It doesn’t happen overnight. We are all working with lifetimes of training in the other direction – to run, distract ourselves, or react when we feel upset, agitated or sad.
If you’ve managed 3 minutes, see if you can handle another 3. If not, try coming back to this later in the day. Notice if the emotions have shifted, if different blocks are arising, or if there is more spaciousness.
Be kind to yourself. Remember: this takes time, and kindness. There’s a reason it’s called a “practice”!