Why can’t I meditate?

Posted on October 26, 2013

Praying is talking to God, but meditating is listening. – Eat, Pray, Love

Blame it on my ADD, baby! Whenever I try meditating I find myself thinking about my grocery list, which reminds me about watering the garden, which reminds me about taking out the trash, which reminds me about that fence I still need to put up, which gets me thinking about…you get the point.

I’ve tried taking meditation classes and consistently tried to meditate for 20 minutes/day for 4 months- to no avail. I’ve read books, watched videos, but still nothing. Any advice will be much appreciated!

Why I want to be able to meditate so bad and you should too

Here’s a great article about boosting your brain power. #8 talks about the benefits of meditation (and is where I got the image above from).

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  • http://www.twitter.com/bennesvig Ben Nesvig

    I’ve been thinking a lot about meditation lately. In the last two years, I’ve seen the benefits mentioned in several books and blog posts. I’ve also only seen positive benefits mentioned from meditating. No one has ever said, “I started meditating and that’s when things started going down hill” but I often hear “meditation has change my life more than anything else.”

    Recently, I heard Jerry Seinfeld mention to Alec Baldwin on his Here’s The Thing podcast that he has been meditating daily since he was 22 and it radically improved his life. Then I also stumbled on this video shared on a blog I read. A very smart man (who is also worth $10 billion) claims meditation is the biggest ingredient to his success – https://vimeo.com/50999847

    And finally, I’ve been thinking about what qualities it takes to make someone successful. The biggest barrier everyone has is not being able to get an objective outside perspective of themselves and their work. I see meditation as helping someone detach themselves from their thoughts, thus being able to view things as they actually are instead of through a lens that wants to protect their ego. I came to this thought after realizing I can’t make myself laugh or know if I have a good idea/observation in the moment. I need to write it down and then come back to it when I’ve forgotten that I came up with it to accurately judge it with a detached point of view.

    How to meditate? I’m not one to give advice since I haven’t started doing it consistently… yet. Some things that might help:

    1. Priming yourself – tell yourself that you’re going to sit down for xx minutes and do nothing, but relax and focus on your breath.

    2. Don’t judge yourself/thoughts – when you have a thought, acknowledge it and return to focusing on your breath.

    3. If you’re really really struggling to make it consistent, sign up on Stickk.com and put money on the line. If you miss a day in the chain, you have to donate xx money to a charity you hate.

    Also, this might be helpful – http://blogs.hbr.org/2012/10/if-youre-too-busy-to-meditate/

    • Shawnee Huie

      Thank you both so much for your great advice on meditating! Biggest first step I got from you both is to just focus on breathing for now…
      @BenNesvig:disqus great article and video, as always
      @disqus_UdBijCxhR0:disqus I didn’t know that you meditated daily- let’s talk more on our walk Friday

      • http://www.twitter.com/bennesvig Ben Nesvig

        If it’s available for Android, check out the Headspace app. I’m on day 4 with that. It’s guided meditation and also has a lot of helpful videos.

  • Vinh Huynh

    Are you forgetting you know a zen master?? I meditate almost daily for anywhere from 10-30 minutes and used to have the same problem. There are many types of meditation or reasons why you would meditate. But generally it’s to overcome some kind or problem/obstacle or to achieve a certain psychological state of being, but everyone starts at the same place…

    This is more of a Buddhist approach to meditation. The first step is to master the “Mindfulness of Breathing.” For some this can happen in a couple sessions, whereas some take days, months or even years.

    Your grocery list, remembering to take the trash out, etc. are all intruding thoughts, distracting you from concentrating on your breathing. Your mind is still 30,000 feet in the air, looking down at the world, seeing, feeling and thinking of too much. Come back down to where you can focus in on one thing.Patiently bring your thought back to your breathing when those intrusions occur, and focus on just your breathing, as it should be your only thought. Most importantly, don’t get frustrated if your mind wanders, just gently bring your thought back to your breathing.

    Eventually those intrusive thoughts will lose their power and your concentration will reach new heights. When you experience your first moment of mental calm and inner peace, you’ll know it, even if it’s only a second. Once you have mastered the mindfulness of breathing, then you are ready to further your practice of meditation.

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