“I can’t meditate for 2 minutes without getting distracted. As I’m trying to find my ‘inner peace’ my brain starts thinking about what I want for breakfast…”
You are not alone. Many of us are in the same boat. I had heard many of the benefits of meditation and wanted to get a piece of this Zen-like focus, calm, and stress reduction that I saw others achieve through meditation. My first attempt at meditation lasted roughly 2 minutes. The following session was maybe 3 full minutes before I threw in the towel. I thought that maybe meditation just “isn’t for me.” So I stopped trying.
The problem was that the more I learned about meditation, the more I wanted to do it! One particular study showed that meditation literally increased the thickness and size of the brain. [R] It creates a bigger and better brain. Meditation increases the capacity to perform high level tasks, engrain new information, analyze situations, relax, and increases the ability to focus and concentrate. [R] Meditation also increases levels of serotonin, the happiness hormone. [R]
Over the course of the next several years, I would feel compelled to continue troubleshooting and testing different strategies to make meditation possible for myself. I knew that time and distractions were no excuse not to try, so I had to figure out how to make meditation work with limited time and a seemingly meditation-resistant brain.
Here are the top 6 most helpful hacks I have used to help myself and others learn to make mediation a breeze, even if you feel like you can’t.
1. Stick With It
Consider meditation more like brain training rather than a talent, meaning you won’t become an expert overnight. It will take some time. Make it part of your schedule at least 3–5 days a week, even if you start with just 3–5 minutes each day. The more practice you get, the easier it becomes, and the more benefits you’ll experience.
2. Use Audio
All it takes is your phone to vibrate, a bird to chirp, or the dog next door barking to ruin your meditation and take your mind away from your focus. Get a good pair of headphones to block out distractions so that you can stay focused on your mediation without distractions. Guided meditations work great for beginners, which you can find on YouTube, or use an app like Headspace. Audios such as binaural beats, spa music, ambient noise, or instrumental music can also be a great way to calm your mind and remained focus.
3. Breathing & Counting
It often helps to be able to focus your attention on something monotonous to calm your brain. Counting your inhales and exhales is one of the easiest methods. All you have to do is count to 10 on your inhale and your exhale. One trick I learned from Dr Joe Dispenza is to imagine your head as a cloudy fish bowl and with each breath you slowly pump out the cloudiness. After twenty deep inhales and exhales, the bowl becomes clear.
4. Play around with the time
Timing can make a big difference. Some people are more awake in the morning then others. I recommend trying either morning, afternoon, or evening to see which time is 1) easier for you and 2) seems to get the best results. I notice meditating at lunchtime gives my mind a break so I can go back to work fully charged.
5. Start Small & Work Up
Meditation takes practice. When you first worked out, you didn’t start with an hour-long, highly intense workout. You started small and worked up as your progressed. Meditation is no different. Start with even just 1 or 2 minutes and work up a minute every session. Meditation doesn’t have to be 20 minutes. Arriana Huffington does smaller sessions during the week and longer sessions over her weekend.
6. Have a Saying or Mantra
This is a very powerful brain hack and often the most overlooked. As you meditate, your brain becomes a blank canvas, ready to internalize whatever you give it. This is a great time to input a positive affirmation, quality, mantra, or saying you want to build into your brain. You can also use visualizations during this time to start hardwiring positive thought and emotions into your mind. This can help build qualities, confidence, and happiness into your life in just 20 minutes or less! It literally puts you in the driver’s seat of your subconscious, take that baby for a spin!
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