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How Do You Meditate If You’re Horrible at It?

photo: Christopher Michel on flickr

photo: Christopher Michel on flickr

Dear Meli,

I’m a spiritual person. And by this I mean, I’m a professional spiritual person. I’m a minister. And I have a little problem. I can’t meditate. I mean, I try, but I’m horrible at it. I’m always telling people about the benefits of meditation, because I know that there are benefits to meditating. But I’m not on the receiving end of those benefits. I feel like a phony. I also feel like I’m missing out on something, like the amazing meditation practice that I should have. Any ideas?

Blocked in Boston

Dear Blocked,

I love meditation! And I do receive vast, immeasurable benefits from the practice.

I imagine that talking about the value while not practicing yourself would lead to feeling unaligned, and overall funky. But keep in mind, meditation is only one path. And there are many ways to meditate! You probably are meditating and not thinking of it as meditation because you’re not sitting cross-legged on a little round pillow, om-ing away.

Do you walk in nature, appreciating the beauty around you? Many people call this meditation. Do you practice a form of art? For many of us artists, this is the most blissful form of meditation. (Just try to talk to me when I’m writing a song, and see how that goes.)

I could go on and on with the seemingly endless varieties of meditation. But there are books and websites devoted to such things.

That said, for those readers out there who are practicing meditation, but feeling like they suck at it, I have this to say:

Meditating is about focusing the mind. In time, you can learn to watch your mind at work, and actually gain mastery at guiding it and/or quieting it. But, for many of us, much of our meditation time is spent off the track of this quieted mind. Because, quite honestly, the mind seems to have a mind of its own.

So if you happen to be judging yourself as bad at meditating because you notice you have so many thoughts whizzing by, then I argue that because you are noticing, you are focusing – so you are great at meditation after all!

All of this said, might I suggest that if you decide you are not going to meditate in any manner – even by riding your bike and paying attention to the sensation of the breeze in your face – you be totally honest about it? Many people would find this refreshing, and feel relief in your message.

And, if they are one of the many people who don’t like to meditate, you could become a role model for someone living a conscious spiritual life without a meditation practice. You could certainly talk about the benefits touted, while admitting it’s not for you! Right? (By the way, I bet you’re highly focused while writing that talk – another form of meditation.)


Happy moments of focus to you,


What’s your favorite form of meditation? Share your comments below!

Have a question for Meli? Interested in a private session (in person or Skype)? Contact her at meli@ohmygodlife.com


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4 Responses to How Do You Meditate If You’re Horrible at It?

  1. Gypsy Powers June 16, 2015 at 12:09 pm #

    Dear Blocked I have been meditating with a mantra for about 28 years and I have to tell you it wasn’t easy for me either. It took almost a year of DAILY practice to be able to do it at all. So keep on trying. When thoughts of any kind come up just notice them and continue. In my very humble opinion I don’t think I could have done it without a mantra. A mantra is supposed to be a holy set of syllables but I know a few folks who just made up a two nonsense syllable word mantra and it worked for them for years. So for instance “ra me”. Try again. It takes persistence. And if not – I have a friend whose “meditation” is walking on the beach and singing with her iPod. Best wishes.

    • Melissa Phillippe June 18, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

      Thanks, Gypsy. I’ve had great experiences with mantras too. And also love walking on the beach. 😉 Thanks for sharing your experience here!

  2. Susan Meade June 16, 2015 at 7:26 pm #

    I suppose you could call intensely working in the garden a form of meditation. I used to sit in the dirt and pull weeds for hours on end while my mind wandered around. Not exactly focused on breathing, or anything, but the mind needs to wander sometimes. Now I throw on the wheel. Something meditative about forms spinning wet clay. I’ve done the Buddhist meditation and never have been able to clear my mind, instead finding it a quiet time to have creative thoughts, and nonetheless it is a calming practice even with my mind wandering.

    • Melissa Phillippe June 18, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

      Yes, Susan! I have this experience with many different types of projects like this, too! I’ve come to think that all of life is a form of meditation, if we remain present to what’s happening. :-)

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