I remember speaking to one of the people I worked with who said they knew meditation was great, but they just couldn’t do it. It’s not the first time I’d heard the reasons he gave:
- I’m soo busy, I don’t have time for meditation.
- My mind is everywhere, how am I supposed to clear it?
- I have ADD, there’s no way I can concentrate.
- I can’t sit and cross my legs like those gurus
- Why should I meditate?
We’ve all been there. You’re sitting in a quiet room, eyes closed, trying to find that elusive sense of inner peace. But instead of tranquility, you’re met with a whirlwind of thoughts, a restless body, and a growing sense of frustration.
If this sounds familiar, know that you’re not alone. Many of us struggle with meditation, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
I’ve spent over half a decade practicing daily meditation, and I’ve picked up a good number of hacks along the way. So, in this article, I’ll share a few hacks for people who can’t meditate so you and they can find a successful meditation practice.
What is Meditation?
The dictionary definition of meditation is this:
med·i·tate verb \ˈme-də-ˌtāt\
to engage in contemplation or reflection
Nowhere does it say to twist your legs into a pretzel, or completely empty your mind. I don’t know where this idea came from, I think it was from 80s and 90s weight loss programs. But I’m here to tell you, anyone can meditate.
At its core, meditation is a practice of improving your awareness and developing a sense of inner peace.
It’s not about silencing your thoughts or achieving a state of eternal bliss. Instead, it’s about observing your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
It’s about being present in the moment, regardless of what that moment holds.
What Meditation Isn’t
However, many people often misunderstand what meditation involves. One common misconception is that meditation requires you to “empty” your mind. This be really frustrating when you’re trying to empty your mind of thoughts, and then they inevitably arise.
Meditation isn’t about eliminating thoughts, but instead learning to observe them without getting caught up in their narrative.
Another misconception is that meditation requires a significant time commitment. While longer meditation sessions (anything from 30 minutes to a day) can be beneficial, even a few minutes can make a significant difference.
The key is consistency, not duration. So, don’t be put off if you can only spare a few minutes a day for your practice. Every moment spent in mindful awareness is a step towards a more peaceful and centered life.
In the following sections, we’ll explore practical hacks and techniques to help you overcome common meditation struggles and develop a practice that suits your unique needs and lifestyle.
Why People Struggle with Meditation
Meditation, despite having so many benefits, can be a challenging practice for anyone. Understanding the common reasons for these struggles can help you address them more effectively.
One of the most common reasons people struggle with meditation is expectations. Many of us approach meditation with a preconceived notion of what the experience should be like – a calm mind, a serene sense of being, a transcendental experience. When reality doesn’t match these expectations, we can feel frustrated and discouragement.
Another common struggle is distraction. Our minds are often wandering, filled with thoughts, worries, and plans that can make it difficult to focus during meditation.
This constant mental chatter can make it challenging to stay present and focused during our practice.
Physical discomfort is another hurdle. Sitting still for extended periods can be uncomfortable, and physical discomfort can become a significant distraction during meditation.
The impact of these struggles can really put you off trying to meditate. They can lead to a lack of motivation, inconsistent practice, or even the decision to quit meditation altogether.
It’s important to remember that these struggles are a normal part of the meditation journey. In the next section, we’ll explore practical hacks to help you navigate these challenges and develop a more effective and enjoyable meditation practice.
39 Practical Hacks for Meditation
I get it, meditation can seem like a tough mountain to climb. With a few clever tricks up your sleeve, you can turn that steep climb into a pleasant walk in the park. Let’s dive into some handy strategies that can help you tackle those pesky meditation hurdles and make your practice a whole lot more enjoyable and doable.
1. Using a Timer
Setting a timer for your meditation can help you focus on the practice without worrying about the time. Start with a short duration, like five minutes, and gradually increase as you become more comfortable. There are numerous meditation apps available that offer built-in timers and guided meditations.
2. Embracing the Power of Stillness
Ever feel like you just can’t sit still? That’s totally normal, especially in our go-go-go world. But learning to be still with yourself is a superpower. So, start small. Maybe meditate for just two minutes a day, and gradually increase your time. Before you know it, you’ll be a pro at being still.
3. The Magic of Mantras
Mantras aren’t just for yogis. They can be a great tool for anyone struggling with meditation. A mantra is a word or phrase that you repeat to yourself during meditation. It could be something like “peace” or “I am calm”.
The repetition helps to focus your mind and can make it easier to enter a meditative state. It’s like giving your mind a job to do so it doesn’t wander off. So, next time your mind feels like a monkey jumping from thought to thought, give mantras a try.
4. The Beauty of Breathing
Breathing. We do it all the time without thinking, right? But it’s also a powerful meditation tool. Here’s the trick: focus on your breath. Feel the air entering and leaving your body. Notice the rise and fall of your chest.
It’s a simple yet effective way to anchor your mind and bring your focus back to the present moment. And the best part? You can do it anytime, anywhere. So, next time you’re feeling stressed or distracted, take a few moments to breathe.
5. The Art of Mindful Eating
You know how we sometimes eat without really tasting our food? Well, how about turning mealtime into meditation time? It’s called mindful eating. Here’s how it works: when you eat, focus on the taste, texture, and smell of your food. Really savor each bite. It’s a simple way to practice mindfulness and it can make your meals more enjoyable too.
6. The Power of Visualization
Ever tried using your imagination to help you meditate? It’s like daydreaming, but with a purpose. Visualization is a powerful tool that can help you focus your mind. Instead of trying to empty your thoughts, you fill your mind with a calming and peaceful image.
Imagine you’re sitting by a tranquil lake, or walking through a lush forest. Feel the breeze, hear the rustling leaves, smell the fresh air. It’s like a mini-vacation for your mind. Give it a try next time you meditate.
7. Short and Sweet Meditation
You know, meditation doesn’t have to be a marathon. If sitting still for a long time isn’t your thing, why not try mini-meditation sessions? Start with just one minute. Yes, just 60 seconds of focusing on your breath or a calming image. Then, each day, add another minute. It’s like building meditation muscles. Before you know it, you’ll be meditating for 10 minutes or more without even realizing it. The suggested duration for daily meditation is 13 minutes, and you’ll be able to do that easily if you keep practicing.
8. Walking Meditation
Got a lot of energy? Can’t sit still? No problem! Why not turn your walk into a meditation? It’s like killing two birds with one stone. Choose a quiet place, walk slowly, and focus on your steps. Feel the ground beneath your feet, the movement of your muscles. If your mind starts to wander, just bring it back to your steps.
9. Group Meditation
Ever thought about joining a meditation group? It’s just like having a workout buddy, but for your mind. A group can provide structure, support, and accountability – things that can really help when you’re starting out or hitting a roadblock. Plus, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people. So, why not give it a try? You might just find your meditation tribe.
10. Sky Gazing
You know those moments when you just stare into the sky and lose yourself in its vastness? Turns out, it’s a useful meditation technique. Just find a spot where you can see as much sky as possible, take a few deep breaths, and let your gaze soften as you look up. It’s like a mini-vacation for your mind, and you only need about a minute. The sky’s vastness can give you a sense of awe and perspective, helping you feel more calm and clear-headed.
11. Color Therapy
Ever noticed how certain colors can affect your mood? Well, there’s a whole therapy based on that! Just find an object or a color chart online with a calming color (blue or green are great choices), and spend a couple of minutes just looking at it. As you breathe deeply, imagine the color being absorbed into your body with each breath.
12. Humming Bee Breath
This one might sound a bit funny, but trust me, it works! It’s a yogic breathing exercise called the ‘humming bee’ breath. Just find a comfy seat, take a few normal breaths, and then start humming on each exhale. It’s like giving your mind a lullaby, and it can help reduce stress levels and increase focus.
13. Upside-Down Time
Feeling a bit sluggish? Try going upside down! It doesn’t have to be a full-on headstand (unless you’re into that), even a simple forward bend can do the trick. Just make sure you don’t stay upside down for too long and always listen to your body. It’s a quick way to get a fresh perspective and shake off any mental cobwebs.
14. Birdsong Listening
This one’s my personal favorite. Just find a recording of birdsong (there are plenty of apps and websites for that), and spend about seven minutes just listening. It’s like a mini-trip to the forest, right from your living room! Research shows that even a short exposure to birdsong can significantly improve your well-being. I’ve found this video as a great example, I suggest playing it at a low volume. It should only be loud enough to enjoy an notice the songs like they are outside of your window.
15. Daily Checkbox for Consistency
Consistency is key in meditation. Create a daily checkbox or use a habit tracker app to maintain your meditation practice. Checking off your daily meditation can provide a sense of accomplishment and motivate you to continue the practice.
16. WPM: Wake, Pee, Meditate
Incorporating meditation into your morning routine can help ensure consistency. The WPM strategy stands for Wake, Pee, Meditate. By meditating first thing in the morning, you start your day with a clear and focused mind.
17. Using a Blindfold
Using a blindfold or eye mask can help reduce visual distractions and promote a deeper sense of inward focus. This can be particularly helpful for beginners who struggle with closing their eyes during meditation.
18. The Longest Breath Technique
The longest breath technique involves taking slow, deep breaths and gradually extending the length of each breath. This technique can help calm the mind and body, making it easier to enter a meditative state.
19. Cold Water Technique
Splashing your face with cold water before meditating can help wake up the body and mind, making it easier to focus during your practice. This can be particularly helpful if you’re feeling drowsy or unfocused.
20. The Butt Scoot
The Butt Scoot involves scooting your butt back against a wall while sitting in a meditative posture. This can help ensure proper alignment and reduce physical discomfort during meditation.
21. Meditating After Physical Activity
Meditating after physical activity, like a walk or yoga, can help release restlessness and prepare the body for stillness. The post-activity relaxation can make it easier to enter a meditative state.
22. Counting Your Breaths
You know, sometimes the simplest things can be the most effective. Like counting your breaths. Just close your eyes, sit up straight, and take a deep breath in. As you do, silently count to one. Then, as you breathe out, count to two. Keep this up until you reach ten. If your mind wanders off (and it probably will), just start over. It’s a simple, yet powerful way to bring your focus back when it starts to drift.
23. Animal Time
Ever noticed how calming it can be to just sit and pet a cat or a dog? It’s not just in your head. Spending a few mindful minutes with an animal can actually lower your stress levels and boost your mood. So, go ahead and give your pet some extra love. No pet? No problem. Even watching fish swim can have a calming effect.
24. Guided Meditations
When I first started meditating, guided meditations were a game-changer for me. They’re like having a personal trainer for meditation. There are tons of free guided meditations online that can help you get started or deepen your practice.
25. The Falling Leaves Technique
Here’s a fun one for you. Picture your thoughts as leaves falling from a tree. As each thought pops up, imagine it as a leaf drifting down and then floating away. It’s a great way to practice observing your thoughts without getting caught up in them.
Sometimes, the best way to clear your mind is to get your thoughts out on paper. Just grab a pen and start writing. It doesn’t matter what you write about, just let it flow. It’s like a brain dump that leaves you feeling lighter and more focused.
27. Driving Meditation
Now, this one might sound a bit odd, but stick with me. Next time you’re driving, try treating it as a meditation. Turn off the radio, ignore your phone, and just focus on the act of driving. You might be surprised at how calming it can be.
28. Gratitude Meditation
Last but not least, try a gratitude meditation. Just sit quietly and say “Thank you.” You don’t have to say it to anyone in particular, just put that gratitude out there. Then start thinking about specific things you’re grateful for. It’s a powerful way to shift your mindset and bring about a sense of peace.
29. Focusing on the Nose During Meditation
Focusing on the sensation of the breath at the tip of the nose can help anchor the mind and reduce distractions. This simple technique can be a powerful tool for cultivating mindfulness and focus during meditation.
30 Find Your Happy Place
You know that cozy corner in your home where you feel most at ease? Or maybe it’s a quiet spot in your garden? Well, that could be your perfect meditation spot. Pick a place where you feel calm and comfortable. It doesn’t have to be a fancy meditation cushion or a secluded spot in the woods. It could be as simple as your favorite armchair or a quiet corner of your bedroom. The key is to find a place where you can relax and won’t be disturbed.
31. Make it a Date
Remember how you never miss your favorite show or your weekly catch-up with your bestie? Well, how about treating your meditation practice the same way? Picking specific time for your meditation and sticking to it. It could be first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, or right before bed. The point is to make it a non-negotiable part of your routine. So, set a date with yourself and make meditation a priority, just like your favorite Netflix show.
32. Embrace the Distractions
You know how it feels when you’re trying to focus, and every little noise seems to be out to get you? Well, here’s a fresh perspective: distractions aren’t your enemy. Think of it like training in a noisy gym – it’s tough, but it makes you stronger.
33. Meditation Isn’t Just for Tough Times
Meditation isn’t just a lifeboat for when times get tough. It’s a daily practice that can make your life richer and more balanced. So, don’t just meditate when you’re stressed out. Make it a daily habit, and you’ll find that those tough times are a little easier to handle.
34. Meditation Isn’t About Stopping Thoughts
One of the biggest misconceptions about meditation is that it’s about stopping your thoughts. But here’s the truth: meditation is about observing your thoughts without judgment. So, don’t stress if your mind is buzzing with thoughts during your meditation. Just observe them like you’re watching clouds pass by in the sky.
35. Meditation is Brain Training
If you’re not a spiritual or religious person, don’t worry. Meditation isn’t necessarily a spiritual practice. Think of it more like training for your brain. Just like you’d hit the gym to strengthen your muscles, you meditate to strengthen your brain. So, lace up those mental sneakers and get ready for some brain gains!
36. Yoga and Meditation: A Dynamic Duo
If you’re a yoga enthusiast, that’s great! But don’t mistake your yoga practice for meditation. They’re two separate practices, each with their own unique benefits. So, keep up with your yoga, but make sure to carve out some time for meditation too.
37. Falling Asleep? That’s Okay!
If you tend to doze off during your meditation, don’t sweat it. It’s pretty common. But if you want to stay awake, try sitting upright instead of lying down. And maybe meditate away from your bed, so you’re not tempted to take a snooze.
38. Make Time for Meditation
One of the biggest hurdles to meditation is finding the time. But here’s a secret: you don’t find time, you make it. So, carve out a little time each day for your meditation. Even just 10 minutes can make a big difference
39. Give Meditation a Fair Chance
If you feel like meditation isn’t working for you, don’t give up just yet. Meditation takes patience and practice. So, commit to a 30-day meditation challenge and see how it goes. You might just surprise yourself!
Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to meditation. What works for one person might not work for another. The key is to experiment with different techniques and find what works best for you. Be patient with yourself, and remember that every step, no matter how small, is progress on your meditation journey.
Meditation for Different Times of the Day
Meditation can be a powerful tool at any time of the day, and different times can offer unique benefits. Let’s explore how you can incorporate meditation into your daily routine:
Starting your day with meditation can set a positive tone for the rest of the day. Morning meditation can help clear your mind, set your intentions for the day, and prepare you to face the day’s challenges with calmness and clarity. You can incorporate the WPM (Wake, Pee, Meditate) strategy we discussed earlier to ensure consistent morning practice.
A midday meditation can serve as a peaceful oasis in the midst of a busy day. It can help you reset, release stress, and recharge your mental energy. Even a short meditation session during your lunch break can make a significant difference in your stress levels and productivity for the rest of the day.
An evening meditation can help you unwind from the day’s stress and prepare for a restful night’s sleep. It can be a time to let go of the day’s worries, cultivate gratitude, and set a peaceful tone for the night.
Remember, the best time to meditate is the time that works best for you. The key is consistency, so find a time that fits seamlessly into your daily routine and stick to it.
Meditation Techniques for Different People
Meditation is a versatile practice that can be adapted to meet the unique needs of different individuals. Let’s explore some techniques tailored for specific groups:
Meditation for People with an Overactive Mind
If your mind tends to race with thoughts, focusing on your breath or a mantra can help anchor your mind and reduce distractions. Techniques like the longest breath or focusing on the nose during meditation, as discussed earlier, can be particularly helpful.
Meditation for People with ADHD
For people with ADHD, traditional seated meditation can be challenging. Movement-based meditations, like walking meditation or yoga, can be a more accessible alternative. Also, short, frequent meditation sessions can be more manageable than longer ones. For more specific strategies, check out my article on ADHD and Meditation.
Meditation for Overthinkers
Overthinkers often struggle with meditation because they get caught up in their thoughts. A useful strategy is to observe your thoughts as if they’re clouds passing in the sky. Acknowledge each thought, then let it go and bring your focus back to your breath or mantra.
The Role of Mindfulness in Meditation
Mindfulness is a state of being fully present and engaged in the current moment, aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment. It’s about observing your experiences as they unfold, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.
Mindfulness is at the heart of meditation.
While meditation often involves specific techniques or practices, mindfulness is the underlying state of awareness that these practices cultivate. Whether you’re focusing on your breath, repeating a mantra, or observing your thoughts, the goal is to cultivate mindfulness – a state of open, nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment.
In this article, we’ve explored practical hacks for people who struggle with meditation, from using a timer to focusing on the nose during meditation. We’ve discussed the importance of consistency, the benefits of meditating at different times of the day, and how to adapt meditation techniques to suit different individuals.
We’ve also highlighted the crucial role of mindfulness in meditation. Remember, the journey of meditation is a personal one, filled with its own challenges and triumphs. Be patient with yourself, celebrate your progress, and most importantly, keep going. You’re on the path to a more mindful and peaceful life.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be construed as professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms of any mental health condition, we strongly advise consulting with a qualified healthcare professional.