Yoga Wellness Educator. Certified to teach Hatha Yoga, Meditation, Pilates, Reiki. Yoga Therapy Foundations program. I love to write.
The Meditation and Mantras[i] book lists many obstacles to meditation. The intent of the book is to help a person gain intuitive wisdom, which helps gain a purpose in life.
New meditators, and even some experienced meditators, are usually not told of obstacles to meditation when they first learn to meditate. If this information is conveyed, it is often done with finesse to avoid drawing attention to negative views.
The section in this book that captured my attention was a list of the obstacles to meditation. I remembered that chapter when I recently read a meditator’s blog. In one of her posts, this meditator talked about the difficulty she was having in meditating. She could not sit still to meditate, even for five minutes. I wrote her back that she could practice walking meditation instead of sitting meditation.
Knowing about these obstacles will arm you to overcome them and reap the benefits that come with a daily meditation routine.
Obstacles to a meditation practice can be due to internal and/or external reasons. They can happen either during the session or in between sessions.
The biggest obstacle to meditation is the need for action and the idea that it is a waste of time that could be better used elsewhere. For instance, some writers are so committed to the writing craft that they use meditation time to generate creative ideas for writing.
In addition to learning something new, some first-time meditators experience euphoria. Once the euphoria passes, they tend to stop meditating every day or four to five times a week.
Stopping to practice on a regular basis is one of the obstacles to meditating. The benefits of meditation are cumulative, It is through regular practice that meditators start to reap the benefits of their meditation.
Some of these obstacles are in the areas of health and diet, such as:
- Laziness and sleep
- Complications of daily life
- Inability to sit still
- Useless conversation
- Strong emotions
- Loss of vital energy
- The mind itself
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Experienced meditators might encounter one or more of these obstacles to reach a deeper meditation:
- Lack of attention
- Wrong assumptions in thinking
- Not stable enough to maintain the level of practice achieved
- Pride and boastfulness
- Religious hypocrisy
- Misuse of psychic powers gained from regular meditation.
Most of the time, experienced meditators appreciate that their meditation practice changes and becomes more effective over time. Change and growth, and in particular our acceptance of them, solve most meditation problems.
Ram Dass, an American spiritual teacher, psychologist, and author, said, “One way to get free of attachment is to cultivate the witness consciousness, to become a neutral observer of your own life. The witness place inside you is simple awareness, the part of you that is aware of everything—just noticing, watching, not judging, just being present, being here now.”
I like this observation by Barry Evans in his article, “The Myth of the Experienced Meditator”. He said of his thirty-eight years of regular meditation, “For me, meditation is a haven away from the ubiquitous world of self-improvement. It’s not just that there’s no such thing as ‘bad’ meditation, but there’s no such thing as ‘good’ meditation either. It is what it is.”[ii]
Most of us get attached to the ‘feeling good’ aspect of meditation. This by itself could undermine our resolve to continue with daily meditation, whatever happens. Feeling good is a strong motivator. It is also an obstacle if a meditator expects the same experience time and again.
It is helpful to know what works for you. Knowing yourself would help you find a method that works for you.
Impatience could make us stop a meditation session too soon. It could hinder our concentration and put an end to our practice.
To detach yourself from feelings of impatience, start by recognizing unproductive thoughts then let go of them.
When you do not give importance to negative thoughts, you shift your focus away from anger and revenge. Negative thoughts are challenging if you want to keep your brain in check to be aware of what is going on in stillness and silence.
Many people like to meditate but find that meditating several times a week is a challenge. We do what we can while intending to meditate regularly. It‘s not a big deal if we skip meditation for a day or two, but we lose the cumulative benefit of meditating on a regular basis when we meditate randomly.
[i] Meditation and Mantras. Vishnu-Devananda S. (2000), pp. 218-234.
[ii] "The Myth of the Experienced Meditator" by Barry Evans. Tricycle online magazine (spring 2008). Retrieved from https://tricycle.org/magazine/myth-experienced-meditator/
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.