The practice of mindfulness takes patience and dedication and the litany of excuses not to practice are endless, but I will attempt to debunk a few of the more common ones.
“It makes me more anxious”
Some people, especially people with anxiety issues, find practicing mindfulness increases their anxiety. This is an understandable reaction, but not enough to give up on the practice. It is often found that the exercises focusing on breathing cause the most anxiety. Simply focus on the non-breathing focused exercises to begin and once you become comfortable with mindfulness practice come back to the breathing exercises.
I just can’t do it
What exactly does the person mean by this? Is it just too hard? Are they having difficulties concentrating? Do they believe to be successful thoughts and feeling never intrude? Many people say they can’t do it when they just mean it is really hard. Truth is practicing mindfulness is a hard skill and the only way to get better is to keep pursuing it.
I don’t have time
This is one of the simplest problems to fix. You can practice mindfulness anytime, doing anything. If what you mean is you don’t have time for formal practice, let me remind you some of the exercises only take a few to ten minutes. It is better to spend 10 minutes fully dedicated than an hour half-heartedly. Try setting aside 10 minutes in the morning to practice mindfulness.
I can’t stay focused
Mindfulness is simply about staying in the present moment with acceptance. Please throw any other expectations out the window. The object of practicing mindfulness for many is to feel better. It is with this in mind that we reach a paradox. To feel better you must practice mindfulness, but if you focus on feeling better you have trouble staying focused on mindfulness. So throw away the goal while practicing mindfulness and you will achieve that goal.
I fall asleep
Some people find they drift off when they practice mindfulness. If the person has trouble sleeping this can be a good thing, simply practice mindfulness of part of your preparing for bed routine. There are several factors to consider if this is a common issue:
- Do you need more sleep? If you are sleep deprived your body will want to take advantage of this quiet time.
- Is there a better time of day to practice? If at the end of the day you are always exhausted, simply begin practicing in the morning.
- Did you eat a big meal shortly before practicing? Watch out for a food coma!
- Is there a different position you can try? If you practice mindfulness lying down, simply try it is a sitting position.
- Are you closing your eyes? Keep your eyes open while practicing.
You have to plan for the future
Some people believe that practicing mindfulness means you never consider the past or the future. This simply is not the case, but you may be able to do those things mindfully whereas you do not currently. Often planning for the future isn’t planning at all, but instead it is worrying. Mindfulness actually helps you in planning for the future by keeping you grounded in reality of the present moment.