Starting meditation: HELP!!!

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    Hello everyone,

    I want to start meditation, but I can´t get the hang of it. Please help!

    I put some relaxing music on and sit or lie down, close my eyes and try to relax.
    Then I notice that my leg in uncomfortable, resit and try again..
    Then I have an itch on my arm, scratch it and continue..
    Then I start thinking about nonsense things before I notice that I have a hair itching in my face.. whipe it away and try to relax again..
    Continue to think about nonsense and resit again..
    Then I am distracted by some noise outside and get distracted again..

    What can I do to stop this? I really want to take on meditation seriously!

    • This topic was modified 8 years, 9 months ago by Mariposita.

    What type of meditation technique are you using, exactly? Because the answer may be different, depending.

    I do mindfulness meditation, and if that’s similar to what you’re trying to do, you should know you’re already doing it.

    I understand why you feel that noticing your leg is uncomfortable, scratching yourself, noticing you’re thinking about nonsense things etc is not-meditation. In fact, it is called the wandering mind. Whenever you notice wandering mind and resit, you experience returning mind. This experience of returning mind is what meditation is, especially at first. After a while you may experience absorption, where the mind doesn’t wander anymore, and that’s nice, but that’s not something you have to wait for. (You could be waiting a long time.)

    Did you know that when you lift weight to become stronger, you have to lower the weight before you can lift it again?

    Wandering mind – returning mind. Wandering mind – returning mind. This is meditation. I hope it will do you well.



    I have to chip in here because the advice above is not particularly instructive and the first sentence incorrect. The thing to do does not depend on the type of meditation you are doing. The thing to do is to just notice it and let it be, whether it is a discomfort and you want to move a part of you or an itch that you want to scratch or a thought. Do not try to get rid of it in any way because by doing so your focus shifts to it and it will grow. Always, again and again and again return your focus back to your meditation subject, whether that be the breath, an image, whatever it is. You may spend your entire meditation being distracted, then returning your focus, distracted, re-focus, but it doesn’t matter, persevere, persevere, persevere. You may not realise but you are training your mind here and the fruits of this are abound, which you’ll see for yourself with time.

    Things like itches and physical discomforts are common at first and part of the practice is learning to recognise that all this stuff is just the mind wanting to have it’s way with you. It doesn’t want to sit still, it always wants to be entertained, so you can understand how meditation is probably the last thing it wants to do. You’ll find that the mind will try very hard even with little discomforts and at first convince you many times (until you learn), that you have to move your leg (or whatever). It will say things like the pain is getting worse, it would be sensible to move it to help with the meditation, etc, it can be very sly. The thing is, once you sit up straight in good posture (or lie), then relax into the posture, take a few deep breaths then begin meditating, you may want to move but you don’t NEED to move until you have reached the end of your allotted time. My leg probably won’t fall off if I leave it here a little longer and so on. Eventually you realise this lol.

    A few other hints I’d like to add that I only found out later but would have been useful to know at the start:
    1. Set an alarm at first and solidly decide I’m going to meditate for such and such a time to build the discipline required for meditation and don’t stop until the alarm goes. Not setting an alarm you inevitably keep thinking, oh it must be 30min or whatever by now, and it isn’t, and you spoil your meditation/don’t build as much discipline.
    2. Thoughts: I have to emphasise because it’s so easy to get into the trap. Do not push the thoughts away, it’s like Newton’s 2nd law, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. Just be the witness and return to your subject of focus as best you can, repeatedly.
    3. I found this helpful for a while, the practice of labelling any thoughts that come up into a context, eg future, past, regret, imaginary, distraction. Whenever a thought pops up, just in your mind say to yourself “future” if it’s a thought about the future etc. Don’t start analysing the thought to decide an appropriate label, just make it quick and automatic as soon as the thought pops up. I sometimes find that you can get distracted by a thought and suddenly without noticing it you embraced the thought and have been lost in it for 5mins and you suddenly realise and snap out of it. That is what this practice is good for preventing, the immediate labelling process as soon as a thought arises, stops it in it’s tracks much more readily I found. Again, as soon as you label, return to your subject of focus.

    In life most people are a slave to their thoughts without even realising it, you will come to see this through meditation. You will gain with consistent practice, after not too long, a lot of personal power and liberation in your daily life with the training that meditation puts your mind through as you will start to become the master rather than the slave of your mind.

    Good luck with it!


    Sorry Will, I was a bit harsh in my first sentence there, funny how frustration from the day can taint what we say. I really just wished to expand on what you said.


    Your first sentence is what your problem is. Trying to relax. If I tell you not to think of a giant pink elephant, it’ll be exactly what comes into your mind. It works the same way when you tell yourself to do something that you don’t know how to do.

    Instead, set aside time in your day to meditate. Meditation isn’t only about relaxing your body. It’s about awareness and acceptance as well. So keep an open mind when you take the time to do this.

    Start by creating a soothing atmosphere and either sit cross-legged or lie on your back, which ever is preferred and just simply begin to breathe.

    Breathe in deeply through your nose, filling your gut, and slowly exhale out of your mouth. Count each breath. In and out. If you lose track, start again.

    This is an introduction. When you can sit there and do this for at least an hour without feeling anxious, take the next step. To think that people meditate simply to relax will close your mind to what meditation actually leads to. Be open, leave your expectations at the door and be filled with the breath in the present moment.


    Aikiben, thanks for softening that a little. I was having a good giggle at the fact that you deny that the answer depends on your approach to meditation, and then proceed to give a different answer based on your approach to meditation.

    I think this demonstrates conclusively that there are different approaches, and people will tell you slightly different things and give you conflicting advice. I’m afraid you’ll have to find your own way through that, Mariposita. For example, I’m firmly in the “just move already” camp: if you need to scratch, scratch, do it mindfully, return to meditating. Same with changing position. It doesn’t “spoil” your meditation, it’s part of meditating if you do it with attention. But that’s my opinion, based on my style of meditation. I also think some people do meditate simply to relax, and there’s nothing wrong with that. (For clarity, I’m not one of those people, but I’m happy to accept that not everyone does this thing in the way I do it or for the reasons I do it.)

    One more thing, Aikiben, I spy a contradiction in your stressing that you shouldn’t push thoughts away, and the way you talk about the mind like it’s a sly, undermining saboteur who is trying to get out of meditating any way it can. I don’t think that’s a very friendly way to look at ones own mind. It’s also confusing: if the mind doesn’t want to meditate, who or what does?

    I try not to think of myself as a slave to my mind, or try to be its master. I’m much happier being its friend.

    N Choudry


    Just two links that might help you out.

    One is: http://www.how-to-meditate.org/

    The other is : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fz57mdSPgMI (an actual guided meditation that you can follow)

    Cheers 🙂


    Hey Mariposita,

    Just wanted to pass along my experiences with meditation so far (I am a beginner as well) and say that I agree with you, sitting and trying to think about nothing at all is really difficult. Two things have worked for me better. One, I joined a meditation group this summer when I was vacationing in the town where I grew up (very sad to leave the group and haven’t found anything comparable yet here at home). I found that being able to follow someone else’s voice and doing some visualizing was much easier for me than simply trying to sit and keep bringing my attention away from my thoughts and back to my breath. Now, I am so new to all of this and full of so many questions myself that I can’t say that guided meditations are just as effective and bring the benefits of silent meditation (opinions from the more advanced people?), but I figure the experiences were better than nothing and I always left the sessions feeling pretty good and relaxed. There are tons of guided meditations available on youtube for you to check out if you have not done so already.

    The second thing I have done that works more effectively for me than sitting on the mat, is having a mindful shower. Instead of focussing on my breath, I focus on the sensations in my body as I go through my routine and gently push any outside thoughts away. This works really well for me because I am not distracted by the itch on my leg, but rather am quite focussed on my body and yet keeping my thoughts at bay. I don’t think it really matters what you focus on as long as you keep bringing your attention back. I have also read about mindful eating and mindful walking, but I like the shower best because if you are really focussed the sensations are so pleasurable. Who doesn’t like a nice long, hot shower? I’ve never done it in the bath, but I imagine that would work exceptionally well as well. The nice thing about the shower is that it’s not an exceptionally long time to try to concentrate. It’s as short or as long as you want to make it (as long as you don’t run out of hot water! lol). I figure for me, I will start with this baby step and then when I have mastered it, I might be ready for a longer, silent session on the mat.

    Hope you found this helpful…best of luck!


    Thanks for weighing in, Klara.

    I would say that visualising and bringing the attention back (mindfulness) are different kinds of meditation, and don’t have quite the same outcome or purpose. I think visualisations can be really helpful for relaxation, and I know it’s used in a lot of energy healing type disciplines. Mindfulness is more about focus, equanimity and being able to deal with the things that come your way. It’s not necessarily always relaxing, in fact, it can be quite a vexing and frustrating practice (but rewarding 🙂 ).

    Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from doing a bit of both, visualising on the cushion and mindfulness in the shower, for instance. Good tips, and good luck with your practice.

    • This reply was modified 8 years, 9 months ago by Will.

    Surrender and with time all shall become clear and beautiful, heaven on earth cannot be achieved through desire or hope of excellence, accept the frustration that conceals the place that we all seek, that slight measure of eternal peace and contentment. The path to peace is not often walked in this life therefore overgrown with difficult shrubbery.

    If you have the time and interest to commit to an more extreme practice I would recommend one hour of stillness, go do whatever you want, one hour of stillness, go do whatever you want and so on but just remember it’s a lifestyle change and you should try to be mindful within breaks also. start of with smaller periods of time if you find it difficult

    I wish you well

    • This reply was modified 8 years, 9 months ago by Drikken.
    • This reply was modified 8 years, 9 months ago by Drikken.

    A big thanks to everyone who took the time to respond! Im sure this will help a lot!
    I tried some guided meditations, its easier because you have something to focus on, does it have the same effect as still meditation?


    I find guided meditations easier too. I think they are a good way to train your mind in returning to the focus of your meditation, and to experience what different states of meditation feel like. I think guided meditations would have the same effect as still meditations where you do the same kinds of things as the guide would lead you to do.

    Perhaps meditate with guides most of the time, and now and then see how still meditation feels. You’ll soon be able to feel the differences for yourself, and decide which you prefer.

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