Meditation is a great way to reduce stress, improve focus, aid depression, lower blood pressure, improve your sleep and moods, and boost your overall well-being. However, despite all the benefits that are gained with long-term practice, many beginners struggle to build and then maintain a regular practice. Meditation, for them, can at times be a source of frustration, and anxiety.
If you’re currently feeling frustrated with your meditation practice, here are some tips that will help you overcome it and to begin achieving the results you desire from your practice:
How To Stop Feeling Frustrated When Meditating: 9 Tips To Get Over It!
Accept that Your Mind is Going to Wander
It’s important to understand that mind wandering is normal. Your mind, and everyone else’s, is going to wander sometimes or many times during meditation. In fact, it’s impossible to completely stop your thoughts from coming and going.
This is because your brain is a ‘thought-producing machine’ and it is designed to think. The key for you is to simply notice when your mind has wandered and then gently bring your attention back to your breath or whatever ‘anchor’
Don’t Judge Yourself
When your mind wanders, it’s easy to start judging yourself and thinking things like, “I’m not good at this” or “I’m never going to be able to meditate.” However, thinking like this is a bigger problem than your actual mind wandering as it only increases your frustration. Instead, try to be patient and understanding with yourself. And know that everyone has challenges with meditation at first.
The more you meditate, the easier it will become for you to remain focused for longer periods, thus avoiding frustration. Therefore, try to get into the habit of meditating for at least 10 minutes every day, or even for just a few minutes. The more frequently you do so, the greater your ability to remain focused will become
Your ego may try to create boundaries and tempt you to stop meditating. If you can recognize that many of your ego-driven doubts and reasons to quit are coming from your limited ego mind, then you can also learn to ignore them. You can begin by asking yourself if it’s your Higher Self or ego directing you to feel frustrated.
It’s important to note that every meditation is a valuable opportunity to learn more about yourself and it will be providing you with what you need to learn most at each session. So, instead of viewing your meditation as a success or failure based on your experience, you should view it as a practice of learning to re-focus and to improve your observation skills…
… because meditation, at its essence, is the skill of noticing when you lose focus and then bringing your attention back to when you want it to be. And this is a skill that needs to be learned and does take time, so be gentle with yourself.
Find a Comfortable Position
Finding the right position to meditate will help alleviate many of the issues that lead to frustration, including a sore back, numb legs, and other strange body sensations. You may need to experiment a bit to find the most stable position that allows you to relax and benefit from your practice.
It’s also important to understand that it’s ok to change positions during your session especially if it helps you remain in meditation for longer. If it helps, you can use props including pillows and blankets to get more comfortable… but not so comfortable that you fall asleep all the time.
Find a Quiet Place
If you’re beginning, there will probably be many distractions that make it difficult for you to relax in your meditation practice. The more of these distractions you can eliminate from your meditation space, the less you will have to frustrate yourself.
Therefore, finding a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted, and setting it up to be as comfortable as possible from the beginning, will help you get into a meditative state more easily and help you maintain it for longer. However, acceptance of, and serenity towards, ‘distractions’ are key to dealing with your feelings of frustration… this is how you develop yourself… by overcoming your agitated ‘monkey mind.’
Experiment With Different Techniques
There are many different types of meditation. If the one you are trying is not working for you, just try a different one. However, give each one a fair go, and don’t chop and change frequently as this will just lead to more mental frustration. One of the main goals of meditation is to teach our minds to focus… and we do this by being consistent. Therefore, sometimes the best thing you can do is to persevere and ‘meditate through your frustration.’ You will shortly be able to reframe your experience and use what you previously thought of as frustration as a ‘teacher’ and turn it into a positive experience… a normal part of your practice that is helping you develop your character and inner strength.
Avoid having specific expectations.
As with all things in life, if you have specific goals and you are not achieving them, you will naturally become frustrated. With meditation, it’s far better to accept what experiences come naturally and to avoid comparing yourself to others or your previous sessions. Your experience will vary day to day as your energy is always different because of your diet, stress levels, time of day, tiredness, etc. Often frustration in meditation is due to unrealistic expectations as well as a misconception of what meditation is all about. And if you are a beginner, the best thing you can learn from your meditations is how much restlessness and suppressed frustrations you already have in your overactive minds. Once brought to your conscious awareness, the task then becomes to let them go. You will only achieve peace and harmony when you stop fighting with the content of your busy mind and instead, just learn to observe it without judgement.
Attach your practice to something you are already consistently doing.
Humans are creatures of habit. We will eat, brush our teeth, exercise, walk the dog, etc. at specific times. If you can ‘attach your meditation practice to something you already regularly do, it will make it easier for you to form a consistent habit.
So, why not meditate when you first wake up in the morning, or just before going to bed? You could meditate after brushing your teeth when you arrive home from work each day (like I do) or after your exercise routine.
Once a regular habit is established, it becomes easy to maintain it, and it doesn’t matter so much if you have the occasional day off due to unforeseen circumstances… you will just be able to ‘slip back into your routine’ again tomorrow.
Meditation takes time and practice. Therefore, don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately. Just keep practicing and you will eventually overcome your frustration and start to reap the benefits of meditation.
Here Are Some Additional Tips That May Help You Stop Feeling Frustrated When Meditating:
- Focus on your breath. One of the simplest and most effective ways to meditate is to focus on your breath. Simply sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Pay attention to the natural rhythm of your breath as it flows in and out of your body. If your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath.
- Use a mantra. A mantra is a word or phrase that you repeat to yourself during meditation. This can help to focus your attention and prevent your mind from wandering.
- Visualize a peaceful scene. Another way to meditate is to visualize a peaceful scene. This could be a beach, a forest, or any other place that brings you peace and tranquility. As you visualize the scene, focus on all of the details. Pay attention to the colors, the sounds, and the smells.
- Listen to calming music. Listening to calming music can help to create a peaceful atmosphere and make it easier to meditate. Choose music that you find relaxing and soothing.
- Meditate with a friend or partner. Meditating in a group, with a teacher, a friend, or your partner, can provide support and motivation. You can also learn from each other and share tips and techniques.
- Make sure you are getting enough sleep. If you are overly tired, you are likely to fall asleep while meditating. And if your body needs rest, this is great… however, it’s probably not the reason why you wanted to meditate in the first place.
If you are falling asleep frequently, it’s important to examine lifestyle factors such as your sleep quality, stress levels, diet, and exercise to name a few.
- Are you hungry or overly full? I find meditating before eating is best as my body will be lighter and not divert large amounts of energy to digest the food in my digestive system. However, equally important is that you are not distracted by being too hungry. With experience, you will work out the perfect balance of when to eat and how much to eat before meditating.
- Get an App. There are many awesome apps available to support you as a beginner and even an experienced meditator. Headspace has a huge range of guided meditations to choose from that make it easier for you to achieve a deep meditative state quickly and easily every time. You can check them out here: Headspace
Final Thoughts about Feeling Frustrated While Meditating
If you stick it out, you will get to a point when you won’t need to consider any of the points above… because once your meditation practice becomes part of your regular routine and you understand more about it, you will be able to be the observer of the things that used to frustrate you… and you will no longer be caught up in the ‘mind drama’ of justifying or giving excuses for them.
Instead, you will just allow them to be part of your experience, without judgment…and then you free yourself to evolve to a higher level of inner experience… and thus the real never-ending journey of meditation begins…
However, for now, use meditation to help calm the fluctuations you have within your mind by just returning it to the object of your meditation every time you notice it has strayed…
If you’re still feeling frustrated with your meditation practice, consider talking to a meditation teacher or qualified therapist. They can help you troubleshoot any problems you’re having and provide guidance and support.