How to Overcome Resistance to Meditation
“Meditation is good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end."
Those words come from the ancient religion of Buddhism. Yet, that’s hardly the experience of many people. You’re probably experiencing resistance at various points in your daily or retreat practice of meditation. Even when “suitable conditions” exist, meditation can be hard. How can you overcome resistance to meditation?
Become Aware of the Resistance
When you find that you always defer your meditation practice, or put it off more often, you need to take note. Become aware of the resistance itself. Identify the feelings that accompany the resistance you feel. The following questions will help:
Do I experience anxiety?
Do I feel restless?
Where do I feel this discomfort that I feel? My shoulders or my back?
Once you can track the emotions and physical manifestations, you can use them as an object of awareness.
In meditation, there’s almost always one thing that becomes the focus of our experience. It may be any of the following:
the sound of a mantra
physical visualization of an image
the physical sensations of breath
the physical sensations of not wanting to meditate
You Don’t Need Judgment
As you grow in awareness of these sensations, you approach them without judgment. The objective way to view them is as objects of awareness. For example, breath is an object of awareness in practicing the mindfulness of breathing. Similarly, emotional connections are the focal point as you develop lovingkindness mindfulness.
You don't help yourself by dwelling or becoming aware of the emotions, feelings, and physical sensations that make you reluctant to meditate. Just notice them, and use the weapons of empathy, kindness, and desire to be with them.
At this point, you’re meditating already regardless of what you’re doing. You can stay right there, and continue to focus on the feelings of resistance. You can also go somewhere and sit quietly, noticing your breath. Some people wish themselves well in the process: “May I be rich; may I be happy; may I be influential.”
Eliminate Digital Distractions
Smartphone notifications are probably more distracting than helpful. When you're meditating, and your alarm goes off, it's easy to segue from snoozing the alarm to scrolling through Facebook and Twitter. You lose valuable meditation time and focus.
You can use a simple clock alarm and keep the phone away when you meditate.
Use Guided Meditations and Apps
If you can do your meditation routine quietly, you'll make the most of it. However, if you're on the move, distractions tend to be universal. You can use earbuds to tune into inspiration.
There are also outstanding apps, such as Headspace, 10% Happier, and a unique kids-only edition. These are great options for a technology-driven individual.
There’s a New Sheriff in Town – Willpower
Beating your resistance to meditate means you’ll have to show it who’s boss. Make willpower your best friend. Resistance and distractions are dogged enemies of yours in meditation. If you choose willpower as an ally, you can defeat any of those foes.
Willpower will help you overcome resistance every time it shows up. This battle is an everyday one, and it is the only way to ensure you have a regular practice and enrich your life through meditation.
What Next After Overcoming Resistance?
Once you overcome resistance and begin to meditate, you need to continue to practice regularly. Sometimes the feelings of resistance will persist, and you find that you're meditating with those sensations and emotions, it really doesn't matter. The resistance is no longer a critical factor in your meditation practice, but a means to engage in the practice.