5 Meditation Tips for People Who Don’t (Yet) Like to Meditate

“Don’t wait for your feelings to change to take the action. Take the action and your feelings will change.” ~Barbara Baron

I own a series of CDs called “Classical Music for People Who Hate Classical Music.” We know we should like and listen to classical music—they’re the classics after all! But when I actually find time to listen to music, I reach for Mumford & Sons, not Mozart.

Some of us have a similar relationship with meditation.

We know we should meditate—it has so many mental, emotional, and physical benefits, and who couldn’t use a bit of slowing down in their busy life? But when we actually find that bit of time to ourselves that could be used for meditation, we instead turn on the TV, reach for the iPad, or mindlessly page through a magazine.

When I first became interested in establishing a meditation and mindfulness practice, I approached it intellectually: I read a lot of books, downloaded apps for meditation, and even considered taking a class at a local Zen meditation center.

The more I learned about it, the more I knew I had to incorporate these practices into my life. So I read even more, and I did so much reading that I didn’t actually meditate!

Why not? Well, honestly, meditation seemed a bit boring. And I didn’t think I was very good at it. I’d close my eyes, count my breath, and then start making grocery lists in my head and worrying about the un-crossed-off items on my to-do list.

I found I loved the idea of meditation, but I didn’t want to practice meditation. I consider myself a left-brain, idea-loving gal, and if I have some free time, I want engage my mind, not quiet it!

Has this happened to you? Is meditation your equivalent of a great classic of literature, which Mark Twain once described as something that everyone wants to have read, but no one wants to actually read?

Ultimately, I came to develop a meditation practice in conjunction with my therapy for depression and anxiety, and it has changed my life for the better. I’ve learned that with meditation, the process of doing it, is the whole point, not checking the “done” box.

I would like to share some tips to help those of you who, like I did, want to meditate, but don’t actually want to start meditating! Each tip combats one of the reasons we may give for not starting a meditation practice.

1. I don’t have time!

Yes, we are busy with careers, children, homes, and social obligations, but we all have five minutes to stop during our day and breathe.

If you wanted to train to run a 5K, you probably wouldn’t start your first workout with a thirty-minute hard run. To begin a meditation practice, start slowly. Start with five minutes a day, then work up to eight, then to ten, and so on.

You can also practice mindfulness meditation while eating (paying attention to the tastes and sensations as you eat), walking, cleaning, or any other task you do in your busy day. Can you find times in your day to bring meditative and mindful attention to what you are already doing?

Additionally, you may find that regular meditation actually saves you time. By becoming more mindful, you’ll be less likely to make forgetful mistakes that take even more of your precious time to fix!

2. It’s so boring! If I’m going to take time for myself, I am going to read and think!

Yes, we love to think, but there is also beauty in quieting the mind. If you really want to get your thinking fix through meditation, however, there are meditative practices that engage your mind.

For example, you could meditate on a short reading or scripture, or focus on a mantra for your meditation. Meditation and mindfulness are not just “sitting there thinking of nothing.” There are a variety of ways to practice.

You can also find plenty of guided meditations online that give you something to focus on and help you develop your practice.

3. I’m not good at it!

Well, that’s kind of the point! Meditation is not about “emptying the mind,” but about observing the mind.

If you find in your meditation session that your mind has wandered to the events of the day, or planning for the future, you simply bring your attention back to the breath. And the fact that you have noticed that your mind is wandering is great!

It means you are good at it. You observed the actions of your mind. You are become more mindful. (And there’s a reason it’s called a practice—it’s something you’ll continually work on improving.)

4. But when my mind wanders, it’s to planning, and worrying, and that seems far more important than meditation.

Yes, we have to live in the world. We have to plan and organize—but not all the time. A strategy that has been effective for me (especially in yoga class) is to allow myself about five to ten minutes for the planning, thinking about what I need to do when I get home, or whatever else is occupying my mind.

By getting it out of the way, I can then focus mindfully on my practice. When you sit down to meditate, write down those concerns or the to-do list items before you begin. Then set them aside—they’ll still be there when you’re done, and you can approach them with a fresh perspective!

5. I don’t know where to begin!

Take your cue from Nike and Just Do It! You won’t improve your cardiovascular health by reading about Zumba classes, you won’t start liking classical music if that CD collects dust on your shelf, and you won’t experience the amazing benefits of meditation until you begin your practice.

Start small and go easy on yourself. In fact, it might be easier if you change Nike’s advice: don’t just do something; sit there!

And just like with exercising, you may find that after a few weeks of continuous practice, meditation doesn’t feel like effort, but it becomes something you want to do, and something you truly like doing. Maybe even while listening to classical music.

About Sarah Rudell Beach

Sarah Rudell Beach is the “left brain” behind Left Brain Buddha, where she writes about mindful living and parenting for left-brain analytical types.  She is a teacher, mother, yogi, and avid reader. Sarah encourages us to be both “thought-full” and mindful, discovering amazing transformations when we not only indulge, but tame, our monkey minds.

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  • Niloo

    Excellent article and one I 10000000% relate to! I’ve been wanting to meditate (but not wanting to start meditating!) for nearly 10 years now!! It was just nice to hear someone else write about their experience that sounds almost exactly like mine (and to also hear that you overcame it and are meditating regularly now! 🙂

  • Glad you found it helpful! Isn’t it funny how something that sounds so simple {“just sit and breathe”} can actually be so challenging? 🙂

  • Julie Barnes

    Great tips Sarah! I love the benefits of meditating but find it hard to fit in on the busy days and I find it hard to settle the mind so tip four is super helpful. 🙂

  • Glad you found the tips helpful! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • You just described me to a ‘T’. I read about it, study it, and for a while I was doing it, but then I “fell off the wagon” so to speak. Very helpful, thank you for writing!

  • Alexey Sunly

    Will share! 🙂

  • joeladamson

    Tip #6: don’t meditate in the middle of a gravel walkway on a college campus.

    This is a good list to refer friends (and my wife) to. I will definitely share this.

    A real tip to add to the list would be to find a meditation group. I meditated for a year before finding one, but it definitely helps to find people and find that they are all having the same challenges. Everybody at my group would describe themselves as “a terrible meditator,” either for real or for comedic purposes.

    I find a lot in common with what you said about your need for logic and study: thankfully Buddhism has plenty of scholarship to satisfy my tastes, whether it is about meditation itself, or about Dhamma. So to go along with the meditation, there’s plenty of reading and thinking to be done, but as you say the most important thing is to SIT DOWN.

  • Beccam

    It’s right….Just do it! I did and I have discovered so many new and different tools to keep me in tune. Its been 3 great years of a journey I never thought I’d find. I met more like me….and we keep discovering and have a greater awareness, Not only in meditating but supporting each other.

  • That’s a wonderful testament to the power of meditation! Thanks for sharing!

  • Good tip! I didn’t choose the picture … you’re right, it doesn’t look like a spot very conducive to meditation. Though maybe he wanted the left-brain, analytical inspiration, too?

    A meditation group is a great idea, too, and can help hold us accountable. And yes, the scholarship and writing about Buddhism provides plenty to analyze, too. Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  • Great, thanks!

  • You’re welcome! I realized it was a problem when I spent more time configuring meditation apps than actually meditating! At some point we need to turn off our analytical brains and just do it! 🙂

  • Wendi

    You read my mind, I do all of the above. Thank you for this.

  • Hi Sarah – thanks for these tips. I’ve found that starting small and meditating just for a minute or two each day to be the very minimum and served as a catalyst for longer periods of meditation. Your first time, not having time, is also a big excuse we all use in life but with meditation, if you make time for it, you’ll start determining what’s actually important in life and cut out a lot of unimportant and trivial things. Meditation gives your purpose and clarity – saving you a ton of time:)

  • amadeus

    Hi Sarah, I have one more tips. We lie down and don’t do anything… then start to feel the presence of every part of our body

  • Great tip!

  • Yes! And often when I say I just have a few minutes, I so enjoy the slowing down it goes longer!

  • You’re welcome! 🙂

  • Nolan

    Thank you for the great article, I think it would really
    help beginner meditators. I see the article refer to you as a “yogi”, I realize
    that the dictionary defines “yogi” as someone who is proficient in yoga, but as
    I understand it, “yogi” means someone that have reached the highest form of
    spiritual attainment, the guru to the gurus, an absolute master, someone like
    Paramahansa Yogananda. I just think that people must be careful to use this
    word indiscriminately.

  • Sowmyatta Bhardwaj

    This is great! For #1, Jon Kabat-Zinn says – “If you have time to breathe, you have time to meditate”. So true… cz breathing can be meditation in itself! Thanks for the awesome post 🙂

  • You’re welcome! And yes, we can always find some time to breathe!

  • Thanks. I guess in my yoga classes we use the term “yogi” quite liberally ~ thanks for the reminder…. I’m certainly not claiming to have reached the highest state of enlightenment or be a master!

  • JellyAwesome

    Great article! The very first point made me think of the quote: “The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” – Sydney J. Harris. How true it is! Will pass this article on to friends (:

  • Anna

    Hi Sarah,

    thanks for this. I AM a classical musician so I encourage you to carry on listening!!! 🙂 Lol! But thank you so much – I relate very closely!

  • B. B.

    A white lady talking about meditation seems off the wall to me. But to each his or her own I suppose. Meditation isn’t for everyone. That is why it’s challenging. You have to be a person with the right frame of mind, philosophy and spiritual awareness. Energy cultivation is key and that is why Qigong is better practiced for meditation and self-cultivation. It is done by aligning your breath, movement, and awareness for exercise, healing, and meditation. Qigong exercises have three components: a posture (whether moving or
    stationary) 調身, breathing techniques 調息, and mental focus on guiding qi
    through the body 調心. The prerequisite is a calm relaxing state of mind and it takes a lot of practice and dedication. You cannot meditate if you are eating, reading or enveloped in everyday tasks. One has to stop everything that they are doing in order to achieve the Zen state. If you are aware of anything else you will not gain anything from it..

  • PRaveen

    HI Sarah
    These things is really helpful to beginners.And i want to ask one concern…
    I was trying this meditation since 2 weeks on observing of breath.
    but i am unable to see any changes in me,and my mind not crossing this breath observation,i think i am missing something and i am unable to forward from this step.

  • Mark Wiebe

    Awesome article.
    I have noticed that I often end up on the computer or video game directly after a long day of socializing or city driving (which for me requires much mindfulness). This often relaxes me a little however when I take just 5-10 minuets to what I call ‘constructive zoning’ (similar to your # 4 tip about planning and clearing thoughts occupied) then I can focus with more concentration and duration during these computing and gaming experiances, along with practicing my music and reading leasurley (which are even more rewarding mindful activities.)
    Constructive zoning can be used as a precursor to a constructive meditation session. When I catch myself zoning for more than 15 or 20 minuets, I notice that I have passed the stages of planning into the stages thought-cleansing–observing and meditation without the conscious effort of meditating at all. I do not know if this is the right way to ‘do meditation’ but it is highly relaxing/stress relieving thus improving my quality of thoughts and emotions thus improving my concentration and performance.

    I love it when I zone out and end up meditating without realizing it! Thanks for the article!

  • Ranjini

    Just to share a great news! June 14th 2015 , there will be a meditation seminar held in Singapore ! Its really awesome , gurus will be present to activate your chakras. Once in a time opportunity dont miss it! Do contact me at for more information

  • akshat ashesh

    Earlier I thought that these were the problems with me only, but now I get to know that everyone else who desires to meditate suffers from them too! And as for the 100 breathes technique, I was just shocked to know that it is actually a technique!! As I once just started doing it without a reason thinking it to be a foolish thing to do. But now I come to know from you that it does miracles!
    Quite a useful post. Thanks a ton

  • akshat ashesh

    So true