I cannot sit still that long.
I don't know what to think about.
That is so awkward.
I will just fall asleep.
My brain does not slow down, it's just a waste of time and I'm sitting there thinking about all the things I could be getting done.
I have one thousand children and dogs.
I can do it for a few seconds and then my brain wanders off.
I do not have time to just sit there and do nothing for ten minutes.
I pray already.
I want to try it but I don't know what I'm supposed to do or where to start.
I'm too busy.
Are there any excuses I missed? Oh! You have new and exciting excuses?
Leave them in the comments at the end!
And first of all.
If you will "just fall asleep"...maybe you NEED to sleep?
Try it, it's good for you. Sleeping.
Meditation looks different for every person. You aren't always dressed in all white, sitting in easy pose, on a beach rock in Mexico, although... how much are plane tickets right now?
See what I just did there? That's how easily our brains abort mission. That's how quickly we slide down the swirly slide of distraction and avoidance.
"The term 'meditation' is now loosely used to refer to a large number of diverse techniques. These include contemplation, concentration, use of nature sounds such as the ocean, guided meditation, meditative movement exercises such as Yoga and tai chi, qigong, breathing exercises, and Mantra. These techniques work at different levels such as the senses, mind, intellect, and emotions." (1)
Why meditation? In my life, I've used meditation before I even knew it. In college, I'd lie in bed and close my eyes. I'd recite silently all the content I studied for an exam the next morning, over and over until I'd fall asleep, so that when the questions came, I could answer without hesitation (coping with test-taking anxiety), and subsequently earn the A's I demanded of myself. Or, I'd use imagery to mentally perform a sideline dance, a difficult stunt sequence, or whole routine for cheerleading, because I didn't want to be the one person that screwed it up for everyone else. Fast forward to age 33, and I have had wicked bouts of anxiety, depression, insomnia, and low self esteem over the years, mixed in with important presentations and interviews.
The 2 worst times of day for me can be described with a term I just recently learned from a former nursing school instructor, who did an energy moving/reiki healing session over me.
"Definition of liminal
1: of, relating to, or situated at a sensory threshold : barely perceptible or capable of eliciting a response liminal visual stimuli 2: of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition : IN-BETWEEN, TRANSITIONAL" (2)
Personally, my key "liminal time" is when I am *that* close to falling asleep at night, and that middle zone time in the morning, when I still feel heavy and not fully awake, but am conscious. During these liminal times, the most vicious, self-deprecating, negative images and thoughts would be so loud and in-color. Like a loud ass dirt bike coming over the ramp. Often times, I was reliving traumatizing events that could have happened 7-10 years before. Ruminating. Sleeping was hard, for a long time. Going to bed was stressful, for a long time. I am happy to report that I've won most of that battle, and night liminal time is clear. Mornings are still very difficult some days, but so much better than days past. So, I practice these meditations in the mornings, and if I ever have a night of insomnia, I'll play one then as well.
After you read this paragraph, close your eyes, and do it. Picture a purple elephant in front of your house or your workplace. A purple elephant. Is she a she or is he a he? Does she have her nails painted? Is he making noise? Is she stomping your grass? Does she have pink polka dots? Create a detailed picture of the purple elephant in front of your house, then open your eyes.
I learned this technique while listening to the Dave Ramsey podcast, and I think it was Dr. John Delony who took a caller through this exercise. What's the point? You CAN stop and redirect your blizzard of thoughts. The elephant is an emergency rescue. Bring your elephant with you to anxiety-provoking situations and give her your attention so that you can stay in control.
But for a sustained effect - maybe my method will work for you too... Ear buds, AirPods, head phones, or playing the podcast out loud on your phone are some options. What works for me is using ear buds. I have a tiny meditation pillow on the floor by the bed, or, I don't get out of bed and I lay face up. I choose a meditation from the "Meditation Oasis" (2) podcast on my iPhone, based on the content of the noise in my head that day. The one I've chosen the most this year is titled "Guided Meditation for Patience." It is under 14:00 long, and the time I play it is after my first alarm in the morning, during that time I am otherwise GUARANTEED to snooze and fall back asleep. I do not click Facebook, I do not click Email, I do not collect $200. I put earbuds in (or if I'm by myself I'll just play it on the phone speaker) click the Podcast app, pick my episode, press play, and put the phone face down. I close my eyes, breathe consciously and deeply, collect my thoughts, my spiraling negative emotions, and I work through them by focusing on the meditation. Right then and there.
How fun is it to be wide awake at 2-3am!? How fun is it when it happens all the time!? There could be a medical or physiological reason that you're waking up at that time all the time, but that's a whole other post. And, when it's 2am, all you want is to go back to sleep! That 5:00am alarm is coming in hot! And what do you do? Grab your phone and stare at Facebook and Instagram and ESPN news and check emails and maybe even get frustrated as a bonus (Remember how we are masters at distraction and repression?). How much more fun would it be to be able to put yourself back to sleep in a timely manner? There's a meditation for that. (3)
Other times and locations to consider listening to a meditation: while bathing, while showering, while walking, while waiting in the car pick up line, while waiting in the doctor's office lobby, while waiting in the exam room, while sipping morning coffee and getting ready, while cutting the grass, on your lunch break, in the car in the beloved grocery store parking lot on the trip you took to the store alone, while sitting in the car in the parking lot before work because you got there very much on time! ha!
Meditation is one way to go "through it", not around it. And it's free.
You have to give your frustrations and disappointments an appointment.
Give your mind rest or permission.
It won't be pretty or perfect the first few times, or several times. But one day, you'll suddenly tune in, your brain won't be so hard to lasso, and you might even like it.
Your hamster is tired.
Meditate him down to 0mph on his wheel, even if it's just for 5 minutes.
You can do it.