“Why can’t I meditate?”
As a meditation coach, I hear this question all the time. And the truth is, I have never met anyone in my life who literally could not meditate. Not once they received proper guidance
But people still say “I can’t meditate” all the time.
Now, I am not going to give you the typical advice that you hear all the time. I’m not going to tell you to use an app, cut out stimulants like caffeine, exercise, or to try a different technique.
I’m going to go a lot deeper than that. And after you read this you will 100% understand why you find it hard to meditate. And you will know exactly what to do about it. In fact, what I’ve said below is one of my favorite ways to make meditation easier.
Why Cant I Meditate?… Well, Because…
Okay so you think you can’t meditate.
What I’d like for you to do for one moment is to forget all about meditation and go deeper. I want to talk about metacognition. That is, I want you to be aware of the basic way in which your consciousness works. Because once you understand this, meditation will be easy.
So, your consciousness is basically your awareness. It is your focus.
Now there are three basic things you need to know about your mental focus (the third point is the biggie).
1: Your consciousness is basically like an object you can move (just go with me on this)
2: You have autonomy over your focus. You can choose what to focus on, for how long, when to move your focus and so on.
3: This is the biggie. Your mind learns habits about how you use your focus. For instance, if you’re constantly moving your focus, your focus will continue to move even when you want it to be still. (This will be a game changer in just a moment).
Like I said, number 3 above is the biggie. And once you fully understand this, you will know why you can’t meditate and what to do about it.
So here it is. Your mind learns habits about how you use your focus, how often you move your focus, and so on. So if you’re constantly changing what you’re focusing on, your mind will learn that as a habit. And it will continue to perform those habits even when you don’t want it to. So if you have trained your mind to constantly be focusing from one thing to the next, it will continue to do that even when you want to stop and meditate.
Problem is, virtually everyone in 2022 has taught their minds to constantly move.
Let me give one very common example of this.
Let’s say that you’re on social media. You’re on Insta scrolling through posts. What is happening in your mind while you are doing this?
You go to social media. Focus on one post or image for a couple seconds. Scroll. Focus on something else. Scroll again. And so on.
You are creating a habit: focus, move, focus, move, and so on.
Now remember, your mind continues to do those habits even when you don’t want it to.
So then you stop and try to meditate. You try to hold your focus on your breath. But what is actually going to happen?
Your mind basically says, “Okay, you want me to be still now, but you taught me this habit of focus, move, focus, move… so I’m gonna continue to do that”. Your mind is going to continue to perform the habit that you taught it to do while you were on social media. It’s going to jump from one thing to the next constantly, making it impossible to meditate.
Of course, social media is not the only example of this. Far from it.
Unfortunately, we live in a society where everything is grabbing at your attention. The ads, the media, other people… they constantly grab your attention. So, your attention is always moving, and this becomes a habit. So when you try to hold your focus still (which is basically meditating) your mind continues to jump all over the place. And that is why you can’t meditate.
Naturally, one solution is to reduce distractions so you can focus.
But let’s go deeper.
How You Can Meditate
Essentially, you need to create a new mental habit. You want your mind to get into the habit of being still. And the only way to do that is to reduce the time you spend on mentally “busy” things (social media, technology, overly stimulating video games, busy environments, and so on). And increase the time you spend doing things that slow your mind (reading, spending time in nature, being mindful, listening to relaxing music and so on).
When you do this you will train your mind to be still. So when you try to meditate, your mind will say, “Oh, we are being still again. I get that. Sure. No worries.” And then you will be able to meditate.