Our results-driven society can make it difficult to slow down, let alone stop and sit in silence. If you find yourself bored or agitated during meditation, follow these tips to bring focus back into your practice.
Our results-driven society can make it difficult to slow down, let alone stop and sit in silence.
At times, launching a successful business and raising a family can seem easier than sitting in quietude for 20 to 30 minutes a day. The idea alone is enough to make some people squirm.
Meditation is a way of steeping ourselves in "beingness"—which is who we are at the core of our foundation. It is the golden practice that yields the results we so desperately seek. And yet, many of us are deeply challenged by the stillness and silence that meditation begets. Within minutes of sitting to meditate, the monkey mind is center stage and if the chatter becomes all-consuming, it can generate feelings of restlessness and boredom. It happens. It's to be expected and it doesn't mean you're not cut out for meditation; it means that you need to find a solid support structure to help you acclimate.
Meditation is a practice of moving out of mental and physical activity to a place of inner calm and balance; it's important to have an understanding of both the purpose and the intent behind the practice.
Have an Intention
Boredom occurs when it seems there is no purpose. To prevent boredom from cropping up, start with your purpose or intention for meditation. What is your "why" for wanting to meditate? For some, it might be to help counter the effects of a stressful lifestyle; others may be looking for a way to deepen their connection to something greater than themselves. When you know your reason for wanting to meditate and you have an intention for doing it, your practice holds the energetic essence of that intention and the results then show up in your daily life outside of meditation.
Repeat the Mantra and Follow the Breath
Our minds have been trained to be hyper-active. Children are placed in front of televisions and given smart phones and tablets as early as age two; it's no wonder we have such a tough time slowing down. Repeating the mantra, if you're practicing a mantra-based technique, or following your breath, if you're practicing a breath-awareness style, can be powerful ways to distract the mind from boredom. By placing your awareness on either of these things, you give your mind something to do.
Measure Your Progress
As a competitive species, we humans like to see progress in everything we do. Measuring our progress, or in the case of meditation, the return on our investment of time, is likely to inspire some level of motivation. If you can see and experience the benefits, there's a higher likelihood that you'll continue to meditate. Look for signs of improvement in other parts of your life to help you gauge your progress. For example, you may find that meditation helps you focus on your golf game, or your children might tell you that you're more loving when you meditate. You may notice you're less reactive in stressful situations or that you're getting more restful sleep since you began meditating. Whatever the measurable moment is for you, it becomes your motivation to cultivate a regular practice. This approach can be great for competitive types or those who require evidence-based proof that it's worth their time.
Start with Guided Meditations
Our minds love attention and guided meditations can be that best friend who sits with you when you're first starting out. Guided meditations fulfill the need for some level of activity and are a complement to any meditation practice. Deepak and Oprah's 21-Day Meditation Experiences are themed around various life topics. They range from 15 to 20 minutes and include guided audio with soft music and chimes to enhance the experience, which helps you feel engaged while simultaneously detached from your daily activities. This approach helps to pacify the mind, connects you with your heart, and gives you the sense that you're not alone while sitting.
Meditate with a Group or Buddy
Meditating with a group in your community can be a powerful experience. It's also a great resource if you're the type of person who needs some level of accountability. Going to a regularly scheduled meditation helps you to make it part of your regular routine—like taking a yoga class or going to the gym. And it's fun because all of your closest meditating friends are there and it motivates you to show up. (Bonus: it's a great way to meet like-minded people.)
If that isn't an option, having a 'meditation buddy' that you meet up and meditate with each day will motivate you to show up because you know someone else is counting on you to be there. (Tip: you can also do this long distance by setting up a time to meditate together and calling or texting to keep one another accountable.)
These are some fun and creative ways to beat the boredom in meditation. Try these to see which ones resonate with you. Share them with other meditating friends who might have the same or similar challenges in their daily practice. Ultimately, you want to be comfortable in your meditation. If you enjoy it, you will continue with it. Think of your meditation as watering and caring for the seeds you have planted, and trust that with continued nurturing it will blossom into being.