It seems today was one of those days…. I lay down to do my meditation and my mind is taken away by a myriad of thoughts, which seem to be never ending.
“But you’re a mindfulness meditation teacher Scott.. you should be really good at meditation”, some might say.
They may be right, though I am also a human being, a father, a partner, a Therapist, a bill payer, a motorist and all those things which make me very similar to you.
I started meditating in 1997 daily and did settle in to quickly though the thing I learnt early on is that my ability to reach deeper states was dependant on the stress in my life.
Most of you reading this blog are possibly like me and have those same stressors in life…. Which make up the 3 big reason why we are subjected to stress in life:… The environment, the body and time.
Stress In Our Environment
Our environment is a major stressor and its easy to see why, the traffic, the pressure from the boss, the complexities of family life, the bills even making it from A to B in the traffic can push some over the edge.
Very few of us have the pleasure of living in a monastery away from “the full catastrophe” that life can be, to quote Zorba the Greek, so reaching the states that are attainable by monks is going to be a challenge.
Stress In Our Body
Our body is another source of stress and I honestly hope for you that it doesn’t present as much as a problem for you as it does for so many billions of people in society. That upset stomach, that pain that just won’t go away, the hopeless feeling when nothing seems to work, and the answers elude you.
Our brain is wired for survival so it stands to reason why if something is not within our own body then it will take our attention away as a priority, especially from meditation.
Stress On Our Available Time
Our time is another that will bring stress on harder and sooner when we don’t have much of it. It will exacerbate any stress from the environment and body and multiply it to the point we break.
A lack of time is the number one reason why my clients do not meditate and is a pretty clear sign of why they need to.
Google review – Isabel W
“Scott offers a life changing experience I can not recommend highly enough
He has shown me a whole new level of consciousness and mindfulness which makes you see life through a complete different lens, and shows you what happiness and presence is supposed to feel like
He gives you tools for life which you will be able to apply in so many different situations which can literally save you
Thank you Scott for everything is all that is left to say :)”
Stress Chemicals Impact Relaxation and Meditation
If you have read any of my Stress related blogs will understand that with stress comes changes in the mind and body, which see it filled with all kinds of stress chemicals and hormones such as Adrenaline, Noradrenaline and cortisol. The purpose of these chemicals in to motivate the mind and body to deal with a threat or in other words make you excessively alert.
Being excessively alert is pretty much the opposite of being in a meditative state, so it stands to reason that if you have a lot of stress in your day to day life then it will make it more difficult to reach a deep meditative state.
This brings me back my meditation session today and the reasons behind why I found it to be so difficult to focus on the moment non judgementally.
I was watching my breath and found intrusive thoughts coming in, which directly related to the stress in my life. Being a stress therapist, I have many tools that I sue and teach to my clients and in this case I found that the thoughts were not slowing given that the issues that were arising are actual threats that I am facing now.
I decided to work with what I had and proceeded to make a note of the thoughts as they arrived as non-judgementally as I could and just let them leave at they easily as they arrived. Sure, the meditation session was not as calming as it usually is though I did manage to reduce the amount of activity in my brain and did not give up on my meditation practice.
The real reason you can’t meditate
I hear so many people say that they have tried to meditate and can’t, which just tells me that they have yet to be taught how to do it in a way that will work for them. An experience with a recent client had me find that they find it hard to focus on the breath.
As she focused on her breath I sensed that she was being irritated by it due to heightened health anxiety and sensitivity to her bodily sensations, so she needed a different approach. Watching her thoughts arrive and letting them leave just as easily was much more appropriate for her personal condition also.
So, the way we meditate can have an impact on how successful you will be at it.
Although it wasn’t appropriate for the client above, watching the breath is one of the most common forms of meditation used in many modalities today such as Reiki, Yoga, martial arts and the list goes on.
SO, the heading of this blog is “The reason why you can’t meditate and are missing out” so let’s get to the point.
If you would like to be successful at your meditation there is one thing that you need to understand and to put in to practice, and that is taking a mindful approach.
Mindfulness meditation shifts your focus from trying to calm the mind to bringing your attention back to the breath or whatever you choose to focus on as part of your practice.
As mentioned above, stress will thrust you into a state of survival and leave you preoccupied with whatever is going wrong in your life or something that you are running out of time to complete. In short it is the nature of your mind to be distracted and the by shifting the purpose of your meditation to bringing you focus back to the breath removes the frustration will make it that you can not fail.
Bringing the focus back without judgement is the key so that your cynical inner critic that tries to convince you that “you’re hopeless you can’t do this” can join those thoughts that you allow to arrive and leave.
Sure, monks live in an environment that supports their ability to attain extended periods of brain wave states associated with deep meditation and although we can all strive to reach such goals they themselves can be a source of stress and failure.
Start small and accept that you are beginner at this, or you may be a little more stressed lately and that’s ok. Have patience and rest well in the knowledge that every moment you spend undoing all the stress that you do each day is helping to keep you healthy and extend your live. Yes, meditation has shown to extend the life of our cells (telomeres) and therefore our experience of living on this earth.
Try these 5 steps to start meditating – even if you think you can’t meditate!
- Close your eyes
- Breathe slowly and deeply through your nose to a count of four
- And then breathe out to a count of four.
- As you breathe in again to the count of four, this time notice any sensation in your nostrils.
You may feel a coolness on the breath in and feel it give way to warmth on the breath out. Continue noticing the sensation and when your mind wanders (it will happen) gently and calmly return your focus to the sensations in your nostrils.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 for 2-3 minutes to start with and there you go, you’re mindfully meditating.
So, there you have it and I hope that this small introduction to meditation will set you on your course toward health or enrich the process you currently undertake.
The daily mindfulness practices I teach are a way of retraining the brain to view society in such a way that reduces our exposure to stress and builds resilience.
Every step you take is a moment in time, for life is but a series of moments… Seize yours! If its time to stop stressing over every little thing or you just want to function better in life and at work, please CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO BOOK AN APPOINTMENT.
Clinical Hypnotherapist, Qualified NLP Practitioner, Mindfulness Stress Reduction Teacher, and holds Certificate 4 in Fatigue Management.
I believe that we have all the resources within us that are needed to heal ourselves, although having someone that has walked the walk and undertaken the training needed to facilitate you in effecting the change is essential. Find out how you can work with me here.
BY: Scott Allerton
Mindfulness, Overcoming Anxiety, Stress Management