If Meditation Stresses You Out, Try This

I have a bad habit of trying to meditate, getting distracted, and immediately giving up, just to try it again six months later. So this observation from redditor Subduction really got me.

Or just sit on the couch.

To me, saying "I've given up on meditation because my mind goes off on crazy tangents" is like saying "I've given up on working out because my heart rate goes up and I start breathing hard." 

When you start meditating, you might feel "bad" at it because you can't clear your mind for more than a couple of seconds. In a post recently featured on Reddit's best-of section, Subduction suggests a way to ease into it. For your first week, they say, don't try to clear your mind yet: Just sit and listen to your own interior monologue.

Try not to guide it, try not to make mental notes on what it's saying, try not to tell yourself you'll have to remember that for later, just sit quietly and listen.

Then, when the alarm goes off, go on with your day. If you can, try not to process what you heard — don't think, "Wow, I really obsessed about work." Just let that ten minute session go and move on with your day.

In your second week, says Subduction, you can start trying to focus on your breathing, or a mantra, or quietly counting to three over and over. You'll lose focus constantly, but that's OK, that's completely normal, and you'll learn to observe it without beating yourself up.

Subduction's post sparked one of those really great Reddit threads where everyone has helpful advice and stories to share. Commenter Moremoistplz quotes Simply Pray by Erik Walker Wikstrom:

It is this three part movement — getting distracted, noticing the distraction, and deciding to let the distraction go and to return — that is, in fact, the practice of meditation. The moments of stillness are one of meditation's byproducts, not the practice itself.

So if you're constantly getting distracted — good job! Don't change a thing.


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