Managing Distractions During Mindfulness Meditation ExcercisesMar 11th, 2012 | Category: Mindfulness Articles
Managing Distractions During Mindfulness Meditation
Many people find mindfulness meditation practice difficult in the beginning as it is so different to what we are used to doing in our ordinary busy lives. It is important to explore setbacks and distractions that meditators experience during mindfulness meditation to assist people in getting the most out of their practice. Instructors are encouraged to refrain from providing advice or behavior change strategies and instead focus on exploring the client’s experience of mindfulness practice. Instructors should model a curious, open, accepting and non-judgmental attitude towards the meditators experience and help to create a safe environment for client disclosures. Sleepiness, distractions and self-doubt are common setbacks to mindfulness meditation techniques.
Strategies to improve mindfulness meditation practice with these difficulties are discussed:
• Sleepiness: Some clients find that mindful meditation can make them sleepy or restless. Or perhaps they were feeling sleepy to begin with. In this case, mindfulness can be used to observe the state of sleepiness and take an attitude of non-judgment. If your client is feeling sleepy, this does not mean that they are doing the practice wrong, they just need to acknowledge their state and then return to their breath as many times as needed. For clients that are feeling sleepy, encourage them to focus on their nostrils rather than their abdomen during mindful breathing.
• Self-doubt: It is common for some clients to doubt their ability to participate in mindful practice successfully. They may make self-deprecating comments or voice that they aren’t doing it ‘right.’ It is important to remind your client that there is no right or wrong way to do mindfulness as it is a process not a goal oriented practice. If clients are feeling agitated or anxious, encourage them to focus on their stomach whilst breathing as there is likely to be some physical sensations in relation to these emotions.
• Thought distractions: A common expectation of mindful meditation is that we should be able to clear our mind. However, it is normal for the human mind to wander and it is important that clients do not feel they have failed the practice if they frequently get distracted from their focus. Encourage the client to acknowledge that their mind has wandered, observe the thoughts without getting caught up in the content and then return to their focus. It is okay if this happens many times over.
Tips for mindfulness meditation:
• Try not to eat within the hour of doing meditative practice, particularly the body scan as the feeling of fullness can prevent you from having a relaxed mind and body.
• Dim the lights to prepare your body for a calm resting period
• Ensure that there are no external distractions such as cell phones, television or dogs barking.
• Wear comfortable clothing and no shoes during mindfulness meditation
• Morning is a preferable time for mindfulness meditation techniques as it sets the scene for the day or if you choose to meditate in the evening it is recommended that you do so prior to dinner.
• Make mindfulness meditation a ritualistic practice. For sitting meditation it may be helpful to find a special place that is conducive to practice. Some people find candles or soft music calming and helps them to prepare for the exercises. It is the role of the therapist to enhance the client’s experience of mindful practice by exploring setbacks and modeling mindful attitudes towards the self.