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Why Can’t I Meditate? Simple Steps That Can Change Your Life

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So you’ve read a beginner’s guide to meditation. You’ve sat still, cross-legged, with your eyes closed, and you’ve brought your attention to the breath. Inhale. Pause. Smile. And release. But then, “Where did I leave my wallet?” and “Why did I say that to him?” that incessant and indefatigable inner dialogue continues full steam ahead.

You now realize that sitting cross-legged isn’t comfortable, and your right knee is in pain. And, “Why am I hunched over like The Hunchback of Notre Dame? Shouldn’t I be in an upright position with a sturdy frame?”

To make it worse, this happens every time you try to meditate with no improvement, and you begin to think, “Why can’t I meditate?”

I’m here to tell you that meditation doesn’t have to be about sitting as still as a statue. It doesn’t have to mean quieting your mind on demand or becoming “happier.” In this article, you’ll learn how to set yourself up for meditation success and other forms of mindfulness that will improve your situational awareness and make you more present with your family, personal relationships, work, and yourself. 

Let’s sink into it.

Why Is It So Hard For Me To Meditate?

As we said above, meditation isn’t about mind control. There is no end goal, but there are side benefits. Think of it more like checking in with yourself. 

What if you discovered that the key to accomplishing more is practicing stillness—that meditative space where time and tasks don’t burden you? Rushing from one chore to another, walking, running, driving, and fumbling to the next goal perpetuates the feeling of always catching up. 

Stillness puts you in control of the moment. And the easiest way to begin your meditation journey is with mindfulness

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a practice that involves bringing one’s attention to the present moment. Have you ever been in a conversation, and while the other person is talking to you, your mind starts drifting away and thinking about unrelated things? Before you know it, this person you care about has spoken for one or two minutes, and you have no idea what they said. You feel embarrassed, so you might pretend you heard and continue nodding. The next time this happens, break the pattern. Admit to them that you lost your attention and ask them to repeat themselves. Most importantly, bring your attention to every word they speak. Intentionally listening is a form of mindfulness.

How Can I Be More Mindful?

There’s no hack or get-mindful-quick scheme for you to follow. But there are ways to be more conscientious in everything you do. Practice these and note any changes in your behaviour and thought patterns. 

  • Walking up and down the stairs: Slow down and tune in. Feel the sensations as you walk. Think about each leg as it rises, flexes, and moves on to the next step. What do you feel? Do you feel strong or shaky?
  • Brushing your teeth: Give each tooth the time and attention it deserves. Only focus on brushing your teeth for two minutes—which will initially feel like an eternity but will become more accessible and pleasant over time.
  • Washing the dishes: It isn’t a race. Changing your perspective from “I need to get this done” to “the present moment is gifting me with the opportunity only to focus on and enjoy this simple task.”

 

The key to practicing mindfulness and meditation is to bring awareness to whatever you’re doing, no matter how mundane. Do this, and you will feel empowered.

By summoning your awareness to front-of-mind, you interrupt and free yourself from the distractions that pull your attention in all directions. After enough repetitions, it will become a habit, and eventually, meditation will become more accessible and enjoyable. You begin to embody the personality of someone who meditates. 

Be Kind to Yourself

Try not to focus on limiting beliefs such as “I lack the discipline” or “I’m not doing it right.” You are doing it right, and you’ll feel this way anytime you try something new. So stick with it and find your way.

The idea that you lack discipline is only a story you tell yourself, and trust me, you’re not alone; I need this reminder daily. We can change our narrative, so we must choose to. 

James Clear’s two-minute rule is an effective way to create a new habit. He says you must make the goal as easy as possible right from the get-go. Don’t be so hard on yourself because you can’t sit still and meditate for twenty minutes without going bonkers. Starting with two minutes is a gentler approach that will set you up for success.

Succeeding feels excellent, and it enforces a behaviour. So, make your meditation practice as easy as possible until it becomes a habit. 

Tools And Resources That Can Make Meditating Easier

From playlists to pillows, there are many tools and resources available to you that can make meditation more effortless and enjoyable. Your motivation to meditate will increase once you find one or two things that resonate with you. That could mean placing a meditation pillow as the centre piece in your living room or saving guided meditations that resonate with you to a Spotify playlist.

4 Tools to Help You Meditate:

  • Waking Up: Learn the fundamentals of mindfulness from Sam Harris, a neuroscientist, author, and creator of Waking Up, who also guides you into the deep end of meditation.
  • Headspace: Your guide to better mental health. Through evidence-based meditation and mindfulness tools, mental health coaching, therapy, and psychiatry, Headspace helps you create life-changing habits to support your mental health.
  • Pocketbooks: Thich Nhat Hanh is a beloved Zen teacher with a wide selection of mindfulness pocketbooks. I love these little books for two reasons:
      1. They fit in my back pocket.
      2. Each page acts as a prompt. I read one page before bed or when I wake up to bring me to the here and now. 
  • Meditation Pillow: This one is a game-changer. A meditation pillow will change your life if you’re like me and struggle to sit cross-legged comfortably. Keep it front and center in your living room so that you are more likely to use it. 


Building a Meditation Practice That Can Change Your Life

Meditation isn’t about achieving a perfect stillness or silencing the mind entirely. Instead, it’s a practice of mindfulness, a journey of self-awareness and presence in each moment. By embracing mindfulness in our daily activities, we can cultivate a deeper connection with ourselves and the world around us. While challenges may arise, being kind to ourselves is crucial, starting with small steps that gradually build new habits. 

Meditation is not a destination but a process that unfolds uniquely for each individual, offering opportunities for growth, clarity, and inner peace.

About the author
Picture of Gabe Fontana

Gabe Fontana

A freelance writer who strives for clarity, brevity, and humanity. He takes complex topics and make them approachable and fun to read. Find him online at www.fontanacopy.com to view the breadth of his work.

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