Meditation or mindfulness practice has enormous benefits. It ranges from sleep improvement, to memory improvement, over reduced stress, better attention, stronger focus, and more compassion. And the list doesn’t stop here. But. It remains a training. Without having a regular practice, we won’t reap the benefits. And with every other habit we want to start or get rid of, we also face problems when establishing a meditation practice. That is why it is good to know the 6 biggest problems and what we can do to overcome them.
In his book The Mind Illuminated, John Yates collected the 6 major hindrances and also how we can overcome them. It is good to have this list visible. Print it out and have it near the place you sit down to practice. Reading it once won’t be enough but it is nice to remind ourselves that it is completely normal to experience these hindrances and that there is a way to deal with them.
And now, without further ado, the 6 problems and their antidote (by John Yates):
- Procrastination and resistance to practice:
- frequently recall the benefits of the practice, constantly refresh and renew your motivation, and “just do it” =)
- Distractions, forgetting, and mind-wandering:
- remind yourself that this is normal and noticing distractions and mind-wandering will lead to the desired effect of training our attentional muscles.
- rather than identifying with impatience, learn to observe it objectively. Cultivate joy, peace, contentment, and equanimity.
- an agitated, overly energized mind is in constant motion and can’t stay focused on anything. The antidote is to get grounded in the body. Let go, don’t judge and don’t react.
- do everything to keep your motivation strong. Don’t compare yourself to others. Make mindfulness practice a habit.
- Physical discomfort:
- find the most comfortable position possible. You can also use physical discomfort as part of the practice. Again, the key is to not judge this discomfort and also not to react. Let go and accept.
What do you think about the list? Is there something missing? Let me know =).