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7 Obstacles to Mindfulness and How to Overcome Them

“Peace of mind is not the absence of conflict from life, but the ability to cope with it.” ~Unknown

Mindfulness has allowed me to become more aware of my thoughts and reach a sense of inner peace.

As my awareness has increased, so has the peace and joy in my life. The more familiar I have become with the inner workings of my mind, the better I have started to feel.

I came onto the path of mindfulness, meditation, and spirituality when I was 16 years old. I saw the TV-series Ed where the main character started experimenting with lucid dreaming.

That got me interested, and that is where my journey started. It hasn’t been an easy journey by any means, but I’m nearing a decade on this path, and I don’t regret it for a moment.

I’ve been through a lot of challenges, such as going through brief spurts of depression. I’ve felt like I wasn’t good enough, and that life wouldn’t work out the way I wanted it to.

In every one of these cases I let my thoughts run wild. I started focusing on the negative instead of on the positive, and I think many people have the same tendency.

So there have been both ups and downs, but in the end they have all been there for a reason. And with each “bad period,” I’ve learned more and more about myself.

I’ve learned more about what works and what doesn’t, and they have all been blessings in disguise.

I have wanted to give up many times, but I’m glad that I kept going.

Truly living in the present moment isn’t easy, but it is highly rewarding. The best way to move forward on your own path to “here and now” is to understand the potential obstacles and plan in advance how you’ll deal with them.

1. Mindfulness takes ongoing effort.

Mindfulness takes a lot of work, but the good news is that the longer you practice, the easier it gets, and the more joyful your life becomes.

At first, your thoughts will be in chaos, and everything will seem out of control. Your situation will feel helpless, but the more you focus on being fully where you are, the easier it will be to find peace of mind in the moment.

Mindfulness is best practiced throughout your day. It’s not just for when you sit down and meditate. Focus on being mindful of your thoughts when you’re doing everyday tasks and it will be easier to remain mindful when things get tough.

2. There will always be distractions.

When you’re on your journey to becoming more mindful, it seems as if the universe starts throwing stuff at you just to give you challenges.

The distractions could be problems in your life, drama in your relationships, or old negative beliefs popping up from your past.

These are great opportunities to practice present moment awareness. They will help you become stronger, better, and more in tune with yourself. The problems and challenges we face are teachers in disguise.

They are there to help you grow and to realize who you truly are.

3. Progress doesn’t always come quickly.

Progress may seem excruciatingly slow. There will be times when you attach to things and situations that you want, which will make it difficult to be fully in the present moment. It’s impossible to be mindful when you’re dwelling on the past or obsessing about the future.

We all do those things sometimes. I’ve experienced it countless times in my own life. The more I want something, the more I fixate on not having it and wanting to get it.

Once I release the attachment and focus on being grateful for what I have in the moment, my life seems to shift, and progress seems to happen naturally.

4. You may want to give up.

Like with any worthwhile journey, you will feel like giving up and throwing in the towel multiple times.

But it is during the times when you feel most frustrated that you are often on the verge of a breakthrough.

Our lives are very similar to the seasons. We go through cold, dark winters, and joyful, expanding summers. It all comes and goes. It’s the ebb and flow of life.

When you realize that the challenging times are there to help you grow, you will automatically feel more peaceful and relaxed.

5. Your goals may challenge your mindfulness.

Having goals is fantastic, essential even, but when you become overly attached to them, something bad happens, just like we talked about above.

You know that you’re too attached to something when you start feeling frustrated, angry, and negative.

Attachment muddles our clarity. You’re likely pursuing your goals because you believe they will make you happy. Remember that when you start letting your goals pull you into a stressful state of mind. If you focus on the good things around you, you’ll feel that happiness that you think you need to chase.

This will make you much happier in the long term, and, of course, right now.

6. You might forget that the journey is the destination.

Most people miss the fact that the reward is in the journey. Have you ever noticed that when you reach a goal, it’s not as exciting as you thought it would be?

Sure, it feels great to hit a milestone, but if you do not replace that goal with another one, you will soon find yourself feeling unfulfilled.

That’s because we are goal-seeking mechanisms. Humans need goals so they can have a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

It is in the journey that we learn, grow, and become better. When you’re practicing mindfulness, remember that there is nowhere to arrive at. If you focus on what is going on right now, the rest take care of itself.

7. Sometimes you’ll want to be anywhere but in the now.

Even the most enlightened masters on earth have to deal with difficult situations and chaotic thoughts. The difference is they have learned to accept the moment for what it is.

When you do this, you become the guardian of your inner space, which is the only way to feel good inside and find peace of mind, right now.

Photo by Sigi K

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  • http://twitter.com/sriniovasan srinivasan sankar

    Great post! thanks Henri!

    Regards,
    Srini

  • Toni

    Thank you. I loved this post. I agree that mindfulness takes practice and that it’s important to stick with it during the rough patches. It does get easier. Thanks for giving us so many practical tips.

    Toni Bernhard
    http://www.howtobesick.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kimberly-Semrad/100000596325997 Kimberly Semrad

    Very insightful..and what I am learning about myself through the process of becoming more mindful is giving me a greater since of who I truly am and can be.   

  • http://twitter.com/AwakenToLife Laura Schenck

    I really appreciated this post.  Becoming aware of what blocks us from being fully present in the “now” is a wonderful place to begin.

  • Milhan40

    This post comes at a perfect time! I am feeling very overwhelmed and unfocused right now, and it’s because my thoughts are everywhere but in the moment!  Thank you for the reminder.

  • http://twitter.com/JBowdacious Jason Bowdach

    Great post! Perfect timing for an interview, which tends to “muddle” my thoughts with worries and “what-ifs”. Thanks!

  • Anonymous

     Glad it helped! :)

  • Anonymous

     That does tend to happen, doesn’t it? When you remember what you need to remember, you’re all fine and relax. That didn’t make sense, but maybe it did ;)

  • Anonymous

     Yes it is. Anticipating obstacles and then accepting them when they show up is powerful.

  • Anonymous

     Thank you for reading Toni! I also constantly remind myself that sometimes mindfulness changes form, so it’s not always one way.

  • Anonymous

     Thank you for reading, Srini!

  • Anonymous

     Good stuff, Jason. I’m glad the post helped you clear up the muddle.

  • http://tomcaa.blogspot.com/ ТоМЦаа

    Thanks for the post, it’s great! It’s really important not to forget that you need to practice all the time to make it perfect.

  • SYing

    This post is really what I need. I’d hit a rough patch in life. I have gotten out but recovery is not as fast and this post is so relevant and so real….

  • Chemteach

     “You know that you’re too attached to something when you start feeling frustrated, angry, and negative.”  This is exactly what I needed to read today.  I needed to be reminded to pay attention to my emotions and to come back to center, to mindfulness, to meditation.  Thank you.

  • Anonymous

     I call myself mindful, and I am more mindful.Thanks

  • Ashe_rain28

    Henri, this piece  is just perfect for my journey now. I’m in a boat with no clear direction – in a new career, a new relationship and new work environment – and these 7 obstacles are my friends at the moment, haha. It’s good to know I was right on not to fight ‘em (like I can???)..and I do like a little drama ^^ More power Henri ^^

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  • Lv2terp

    WONDERFUL article!!!!!!! Thank you! :)

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  • Kati

    Not so long ago I discovered Tiny Buddha and just now I read this post about mindfulness. I really want to live more mindful. It will help me a lot to follow my path in life and to become a better me I guess. ;) I could relate with the first part of your post so much,  thank you.

  • Nitin Wankhade

    Really nice article.
    I thin it is easy to understand but difficult to practice.
    but nice one.

  • Mindful365

    Great article – Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kayleigh.jones.71 Kayleigh Jones

    You’re right, I find it hard to enjoy things in the future because I think to much about the next future, and analyze too much. It’s actually lovely to sit back and enjoy the now.

  • http://twitter.com/iUnplug iUnplug

    Thank you for a great post! Numbers 2 and 3 really resonated the most. Sticking with it will get a person through.

  • Dougie Fresh

    I am in full agreement and will remind all that we have three major issues to always be mindful of:
    1. Greed — We cannot have it all nor should we expect to have it all.
    2. Anger — Suffering is the most common experience we all share, learn to accept this reality
    and work to understand and use the energy for a creative purpose
    3. Dillusion — Our gateways into the world–eyes, ears, nose, tongue, feelings, and thinking can lie to us. You must try not to allow any of the gateways to fixate (attach) on something. Allow the sensation to pass through dispassionately.

  • Steve Chan

    mindfulness saved my life. while I am not an active practitioner anymore, when I first encountered it, it was a very powerful influence on me, it changed the way I see the world and approach things in life. it’s definitely the answer to coping with stress in the frantic modern life, but very few would bother to try it to improve their mental health, while many are willing to change their diet to improve their physical health. I never understand why not many people pay attention to the importance of having a peace of mind. for me, it’s more important than anything if you want to survive the rat race nowadays.

  • Pradeep

    Great post. The Journey being the destination is a great idea.
    A very down to earth presentation of pursuing enlightenment and contentment.
    I would love it if you read my posts here along similar lines..
    http://togethappiness.blogspot.in/ . Please do comment.

  • Mary L. Trump

    When your confidence is low you’re likely to down- play your strengths and exaggerate your flaws. sometimes feeling incompetent can paralyze you until you get sucked into a downward spiral. Eventually you’ll feel hopeless and the idea of ​turning things around seems almost impossible.

    If you ever find yourself minimizing your positive traits and maximizing your flaws, follow these steps to reverse the cycle and regain your confidence:

    Step 1: Recognize your strengths: No matter how down on yourself you might be, you have gifts, attributes, and skills that are unique to you. Look back over your life and acknowledge your achievements, your successes, and the positive impact you’ve had on people in your life.

    Step 2: Celebrate your wins: Recognize your successes. Whether it’s making getting to the gym for the first time in six months or running your first marathon, giving yourself a pat on the back will boost your confidence. When you accomplish something take the time to stop, celebrate, and enjoy.
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  • srinivas rao

    Great article Thanks for posting it.right now i am in chaotic situation and trying to deal with it, finally what i learned is accepting the situation will give you peace of mind.and the 6th point is an eye opener.
    thanks again

  • Nate Leung

    You know as I read this post, why do you want to get to your destination. If you get to your destination, then you’ll never have anything to strive for. It goes the same for growth. As long as we’re still alive and we’re moving and constantly improving ourselves that’s what the bottom line is! Great post my friend!

  • shenandoah kepler

    Great post! I check in quite frequently on Flipboard.
    I have meditated since a very young girl and am now 67. It has saved my life many times over. I blog now on Fleeting Architecture about the ephemeral nature of, well, nature (of which we are a part). http://gardenaginginplace.com
    Most recently we finished a book “A Sensual Garden: Creating a Place for Being in the Present Moment” about creating a space for practicing mindfulness and meditation. There is always a path and the process of traveling along it….Thanks for sharing yours.

  • Sizwe Kunene

    I am a first year student at a university and I find it hard to concentrate and focus. What can I do to overcome this challenge

  • Abhijeet Acharjee

    It is not difficult to practice . It’s what your mind is playing with you . I belive all great works can be accomplished if your mind works truely in present moment . Some of the strategies you need to add and less to enjoy your life at present moment are
    1)practice candle meditation .
    2)concentrate on your breath during waking hours .
    3)Avoid cigarettes and alcohol .
    4)Don’t watch t.v more than 1 hour .
    And most importantly chant mantras or prayer , practice pranayama (breathing exercise) daily for 1 hour .

  • Abhijeet Acharjee

    Practice pranayama , candle meditation daily and i’m sure if you practice it with diligently and sincerely you will get your expected results within 30 days .

  • AllinMyHead

    Having been introduced to mindfulness as a way to stay present when intrusive thoughts distract me from the present, I have a deep appreciate for this method. It is an ongoing struggle, but when I’m able to use mindfulness to pull myself out of an anxious frame of mind…deep breath! However, are you suggesting that everything happens for a reason? Please tell me you’re not suggesting that.

  • Jayashan Perera

    I feel at peace now :)