What To Do When You’re Stuck in a Meditation Rut
During my yoga teacher training, my yoga teachers stressed the importance of starting a daily meditation practice. They urged me and my fellow classmates to dedicate at least 10 minutes a day of sitting in stillness, bringing my awareness to the breath.
It’s allowed me to become more mindful and practice nonjudgmental awareness in my everyday life.
And so, for the following days and weeks, I was a good student and did just that: For 15 minutes each morning, I sat on my meditation cushion, legs crossed, and observed my breath going in and going out, just as I was instructed to do.
Ever since those early days of starting my meditation practice, I discovered aspects of myself that were once unexplored. I can say, with confidence, that adopting a meditation practice has changed my life. It’s allowed me to become more mindful and practice nonjudgmental awareness in my everyday life.
A meditation practice is something that gets woven into your being, filling in the corners of your life with mindfulness and awe.
But what happens when our meditation practice becomes stagnant or dull? What do we do if we’re just going through the motions and not practicing with intention?
I’ve gone through multiple seasons in my life when my meditation practice has felt less than satisfying. There were times when I felt frustrated. There were times when I felt I was on autopilot - not savoring my time on the mat as I once did. During these times, my perfectionist tendencies crept in. Instead of taking a step back and reassessing how I was engaging with my meditation practice, I forged ahead and just “got it done” - as if it were one more task on my to-do list.
But a meditation practice is not just one more task on a to-do list. It’s so much more than that, and therefore we can’t treat it as such. Sure, there’s some discipline involved in sitting in silence for a period of time, but a meditation practice is something that gets woven into your being, filling in the corners of your life with mindfulness and awe.
If your meditation practice could use a good refresher, you’re definitely not alone! Here are some tips that may help:
Try a different meditation techniques
When you meditate, what is your go-to technique? Do you repeat a mantra or focus on your breath? Perhaps what you need is to try a different meditation technique. There are many different meditation techniques. Here are two you can try:
● Full body scan - starting from your toes and making your way to the top of your head, focus your attention on each area of your body, inhaling and exhaling as you do so. You can do this sitting or lying down if you prefer. In fact, this is a good one to try in the morning before rising or in the evening before going to sleep!
● Focused meditation - bring your focus to one thing for the duration of your meditation practice. You can do this with your eyes closed or open. For instance, if you have a mala necklace, with your eyes closed, focus on counting each individual mala bead. Or, with your eyes open, focus your gaze on a single candle flame.
I’ve been journaling ever since I was little. Journaling and writing is a wonderful way to inject new life into your meditation practice. Try journaling either before or after a meditation, writing down any emotions and/or thoughts that come up. You might be surprised with what you discover!
Listen to a meditation recording
There’s nothing wrong with listening to a meditation recording, and there are so many out there that are truly phenomenal. I personally love Insight Timer. The app has hundreds of different meditations to choose from - with different themes and lengths of time to suit your preference and schedule. It’s a wonderful way to shake things up.
Switch up the location
Perhaps switching your location is all you need to rejuvenate your practice. Try meditating outside or in bed right before getting up and starting your day. Even little tweaks can lead to big results.
Try a walking meditation
Rather than being still, try stretching your legs and going for a walk instead - sans cell phone or ear buds! A walking meditation can be quite powerful. As you place one foot in front of the other, bring your awareness to all that’s around you. Take in the sights, sounds, and smells of your surroundings. And if your mind starts to wander, gently bring your attention back to each footstep.
Take a hiatus
Sometimes, in order to breathe new life into something, we just need a break from it. Try taking a little time away from your meditation practice - there is nothing wrong with giving yourself a break! There’s a difference between practicing mindful discipline and forcing something. It’s important to listen to your gut and do what feels right to you. When you feel the time is right to come back to your practice, do so with an open heart.
Remember, it’s good to switch things up every now and then! Let the above techniques breathe new life into your meditation practice.