I Want to Meditate. How Should I Do It?

Meditation has never come easy to me. I’ve done it off and on for years, but I have never been able to get into any sort of consistency when it came to meditating on a daily, even regular, basis.

But it’s so simple, you’re probably thinking. And as a concept, you’re totally right. You sit still and let your mind wander. You focus on your breathing and develop heightened awareness. Most people end meditation feeling way more at peace than they did when they started (I’d say all, but you never know!). But not me.

Meditation for an Anxious Mind

Part of my meditation problems are due to my anxiety. GAD means that thoughts are filling your head constantly. They don’t give you time to pause and process – it’s just one thought after another, flooding your brain with both important and unimportant thoughts. Since my best approach to dealing with anxious thoughts is to keep my mind busy with other creative outlets (writing, work, etc.), being in a situation where my mind is free to roam has never really helped. Thinking all through meditation makes that meditation pretty counterintuitive, so it’s hard to gain any momentum from repetitive meditation.

Not Having the Right Goals

Like other tools in my mental health toolkit, I think I’ve been looking at meditation all wrong. I expected every session to end with me feeling refreshed, happy and better about myself. When that didn’t happen, I blamed meditation as being something that ‘didn’t work.’ I was looking for meditation to have some sort of instant impact that made my mental illness go away. As with any habit, my skills would undoubtedly grow stronger with time as I meditated more. But I didn’t have patience, and I didn’t have the right goals. No wonder it didn’t work out.

Like exercising, journaling and everything else I do to be mentally healthy, meditation can be a tool in the chest rather than the be-all and end-all of my mental health. This new outlook might be what I need to make it work this time.

I Need Your Help

I’d like to start meditating on a daily basis. I think that, with the right approach and with the right goals in mind, meditation can be something that I incorporate into my daily routine. But how should I meditate?

In the past I have used several apps, including Headspace, but they didn’t work for me. However, now that I have this new approach I am willing to try things that didn’t work for me before. I’m open to suggestions, so let me know in the comments how you meditate. I need all the help I can get!

Pema Chodron

7 thoughts on “I Want to Meditate. How Should I Do It?

  1. AnxiousAmy March 19, 2019 / 11:14 am

    I had a hard time with meditation and several failed attempts to build a practice of it. I now do it for about 30 minutes a day (15 in the am and 15 in the evening) and I notice a difference in both my anxiety and my quality of sleep (which helps my anxiety as well).

    I started like you…anxious and fidgety…this is what worked for me:

    The book: Meditation For Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris and the app 10% Happier which goes along with the book. At first I used the free meditations that come with the book (I think there are 10 of them). Once I got into the basics of meditation (a huge issue of mine was my expectation on what meditation is and what I should experience in meditation- once the book dispelled those myths for me it was easier).

    I even subscribe to the app now (it’s expensive to me but so worth every penny I pay). You don’t have to subscribe to the app to get the free meditations from the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nathan Smith March 20, 2019 / 4:57 pm

      I feel like I have some of those issues you had with mediation, like expectations and what I should be experiencing, so I’m glad to hear that things have progressed well for you! I also have trouble sleeping, and if meditation can help my sleep quality I am all for it. Thank you so much for sharing your experience!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kasey March 19, 2019 / 4:05 pm

    I’ve tried many apps and never liked any of them until I found 1 Giant Mind. I believe it’s based on the concept of vedic meditation, which is all about being effortless and non-judgmental towards the process. I loved doing the 12 steps at the beginning of the app, and still use their timer most mornings. Having the steps gave me an entry path and a goal to reach instead of just trying to start up a habit with little instruction.

    The style used in the app removes a lot of the expectation around meditating and how “focused” you should be. They also have instructional videos that address what you think is going “wrong” in your meditation (i.e. your mind is wandering, you get distracted, etc.), and explain how all those things are an essential part of the process. It’s definitely been the best method for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nathan Smith March 20, 2019 / 4:55 pm

      Thanks for sharing! I haven’t heard of 1 Giant Mind, but I will give it a try and see if it works for me. I love thinking that everything I do while in ‘meditation mode’ is part of the process – it takes a lot of the pressure off in that case.

      Like

  3. SC March 19, 2019 / 5:30 pm

    Hi Nathan,
    I began meditating a month ago and it’s helped me quite a bit.
    I have GAD as well, I know how difficult quieting thoughts can be. I meditate with Insight Timer. It’s helped me stay with it by showing my progression on the app. It has about 15,000 different meditations and is highly rated. I don’t pay for it but you can upgrade.
    Hope this was helpful.
    Sarah

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nathan Smith March 20, 2019 / 4:53 pm

      This is super helpful! I haven’t heard of Insight Timer before. There have been a few other suggestions for apps to use but I will include this one on my list. I’m glad meditation has been good to you, and I’m hoping for better results this time around.

      Liked by 2 people

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