Meditation has been proven to be an excellent tool for living a healthy life. It’s a skill like any other, so it takes time and discipline to master. You’ll probably make a few mistakes in the beginning, but we all do. One of the hardest things about meditation is dealing with distractions. There will always be some distractions you can’t avoid. A big part of dealing with distractions is learning how to manage them.
We need to deal with external distractions, such as noise and interruptions, but we also need to address internal distractions, such as our own intrusive thoughts. The following five distractions will hinder your meditation, so you need to learn how to address them properly.
- People and Pets
You might find that people and pets often interrupt your meditation. These interruptions are very distracting and make it much harder for you to maintain your focus. Try to find a place where others are less likely to interrupt you. Make a point of asking the people around you to give you some time alone. Your family and friends will likely be supportive and give you the time you need.
Even relatively young children can be taught not to interrupt you while you meditate. If you spend time meditating, your children are more likely to meditate later in their lives. By asking them to give you some uninterrupted time, you’re modeling an important well-being practice. If you have a young baby, you can ask someone to look after your child for a little while you meditate. You can also meditate while your baby naps. This will allow you to rest and recuperate while your child does the same.
Noise is a major distraction when you’re trying to meditate. The moment we try to quiet our minds, it seems as if the rest of the world gets very loud. This isn’t something to be concerned about; it is perfectly normal. When you quiet your mind, you’ll start to notice things you missed before, such as the sound of birds or barking dogs.
It’s important to remember there are noises we can control and others we can’t. You can’t stop the neighbor’s dog from barking or make traffic come to a standstill. But you can choose a quiet place to meditate and use a pair of earplugs while you meditate. You should turn off any noisy devices, such as radios and TVs. Don’t forget about the sneaky noisemakers, such as washing machines and dishwashers. Switch them off too.
Meditation apps can be wonderfully helpful, especially if you’re just starting out. They can guide you through the process and provide helpful tips and tricks to make meditation easier. If you do use a meditation app, mute your phone’s notifications and ringing so they don’t disturb you. If you’re not using a meditation app, you can simply put your phone on silent.
- Physical Discomfort
Physical discomfort can also distract you while you’re meditating. The effect is like that of distracting noises: the moment you quiet your mind, you experience sensations you hadn’t noticed before. Many of them were probably there all along; you were just too focused on other things to notice them. That being said, one of the benefits of meditation is better pain management, so it should help you deal with any pain you have.
It’s a good idea to sit in a comfortable chair when you meditate. You should also keep a good posture: relaxed but not slumped. Both practices will help ease any pain or stiffness you feel, and they’ll prevent any new discomfort from developing while you meditate. Extreme temperatures can also make you uncomfortable. So if it’s very hot, try to meditate in a cool spot. Your body temperature may drop a little when you meditate because you’re sitting still, so a blanket or light throw can be very useful. If the weather is cold, sit in a heated room or cover yourself with a warm blanket.
- Falling Asleep
Many of us fall asleep the moment we relax, so dozing off while trying to meditate is a common problem. It can be very disruptive to your meditation. Meditation will help you relax, but it shouldn’t put you to sleep.
Incorporate meditation into your morning routine as you’re likely to be less sleepy in the morning. If you can’t or don’t want to meditate in the morning, find another time that suits you. Try to avoid meditating close to bedtime. Your body associates that time with sleep, so it’ll be much harder for you to stay awake. And don’t be tempted to meditate lying down, no matter the time of day. It’s much harder to stay awake when you’re lying down.
If these ideas don’t help and you still fall asleep while you’re meditating, you’re probably not getting enough sleep. You need to have a look at your sleeping habits and perhaps improve them so that you get enough rest. If you’re sleep deprived, you’ll struggle to focus while you meditate, even if you don’t actually fall asleep.
- Intrusive Thoughts
Intrusive thoughts are arguably the most difficult meditation distraction of all. They’re probably the most common distraction too. It can be tough to quiet your mind, but there’s no need to worry about it. Your mind is made to think, so it will. If you have an intrusive thought while you’re meditating, don’t strengthen it by focusing on it. Rather notice that you’ve had the thought and let it go.
It often helps to imagine your mind is a blue sky and the thoughts are clouds. While you’re meditating, thoughts will enter your mind. When they do, imagine that they simply float past. And no matter how many clouds pop up, the blue sky is always there. It’s just hidden by the clouds, and once they pass you’ll see it again.
Many people find that meditation apps are very helpful because they have guided meditation recordings. These are very useful if you need help to remember to bring your mind back to meditating when your thoughts wonder. Meditation apps are also a great way to track your progress and time spent meditating.
If you understand these distractions and apply the suggested techniques to manage them, you should find it much easier to meditate undisturbed. You’ll soon start reaping the benefits of regular meditation.
Are there any other things that distract you while you’re meditating? How do you deal with them?