The benefits of meditation might be well-known, but what if you can’t do it? Here, meditation expert Luke Mcleod reveals the one thing standing in your way.
You probably don’t need to hear all about the benefits of meditation again, but just in case you’ve forgotten, it’s kind of a big deal. As well as clearing your mind of anxiety and stress, studies have shown that a regular meditation practice can also decrease your blood pressure, improve your smarts and increase your attention span. Sounds pretty great, right? But what if you can’t get your zen on á la Meghan Markle or Rachael Finch?
Turns out you’re probably just overthinking it.
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The one thing stopping you from meditating
According to Luke Mcleod, meditation expert and founder of Soul Alive, most people who struggle with meditation are putting too much pressure on themselves.
“There’s a hidden secret with meditation that doesn’t get spoken about enough, particularly when people are starting out with it, and that is that meditation is learnt in almost the complete opposite way we learn anything else,” he explains.
“When learning a new skill in life, we always attach a desired outcome to it – for example, do physical exercise to feel and look better or do a task at work to complete a job. With meditation, though, the more willing you are to completely let go of what you are wanting it to do for you, the more it will actually do what you want it to do for you.”
Instead of berating yourself for your wandering mind (let’s be honest, who hasn’t made a mental grocery list when they’ve been halfway through a meditation before?), it’s more productive to accept the thoughts that come your way. The key is not to fight it – just go with the flow.
“I know this may be a bit of a brain-bender, but it’s the truth,” notes Mcleod. “Meditation is all about letting go, surrendering, dropping any expectations you have of it and simply allowing yourself to ‘be in the moment.”
How to improve your meditation practice
Get excited about it
“The big tip I give to overcome the engrained approach we have is to simply enjoy the process,” tips Mcleod. “Treat meditation like it’s your favourite meal – like something you want to do rather than feeling like it’s something you need to or should do to help you with something. Just have fun with it. By approaching it in this manner, it will deliver far more than what you may have originally wanted it to do for you.”
Wipe the slate clean
“What I mean by this is to treat every meditation, regardless of how long you’ve been doing it for, like it’s the very first time you’ve meditated,” Mcleod explains. “By doing this you ‘wipe the slate clean’ and remove any previous experiences or ideal outcomes you may want the meditation to do for you. Allowing it to then do it’s magic over and over again.”
Embrace errant thoughts
“Most people think that when you catch yourself wandering off or notice a thought ‘pop in’ when you’re meditating that you’re doing it wrong. They then get frustrated and that frustration snowballs, leading to most people giving up. But here’s another secret: the moment you catch yourself wandering off, that is an essential part of meditation in itself,” Mcleod assures.
“That’s you becoming more self-aware. Every time that happens, it’s like your brain is doing a bicep curl. It’s getting stronger and stronger. So when that happens (and it certainly will), congratulate yourself! Don’t criticise. What will then begin to happen is that gaps between wandering will start to lengthen. Happy meditating!”