You know all about the benefits of mindfulness, and it seems like a good idea, but you either can’t get started, or you don’t keep it up. Why?

I don’t have time

This is a common one. We all have busy lives, but just 5 minutes a day of focused practice can actually make a huge difference, and we all have 5 minutes. So, when you say you’re too busy, what you really mean is that you don’t see it as a priority. Ask yourself why not.

It isn’t really ‘me’.

It’s all a bit ‘woo woo’. You don’t want to turn into ‘that’ kind of person who goes around accepting everything. Some things shouldn’t be accepted, dammit! But mindfulness is not about becoming passive, it’s about accepting the reality of things. It doesn’t mean you have to like them or that you can’t try and do something about them. It’s not about giving up your power; it’s about being able to use it in a conscious and balanced way.

I can’t do it.

You’ve tried sitting and emptying your mind, and you don’t know how everyone else does it! Your mind is super-charged with thousands of thoughts, and you are constantly distracted. In fact, while a regular mindfulness practice does help the mind to settle down, it isn’t about emptying your mind at all. It’s much more about becoming able to observe the thoughts, rather than being pulled along by them.

It’s boring.

Your mind loves stimulation. Anything new gives you a ‘pop’ of dopamine. So, at first you will probably feel some resistance to just sitting still and noticing. That’s fine, just observe the resistance. What do you feel in your body when you feel bored? It will soon pass. And meditation has been shown to produce even more feel-good endorphins than running (though you won’t burn up too many calories).

It makes me feel worse.

If you’ve been busy trying to suppress or avoid the chatter in your head, it can definitely make you feel worse at first. But, it’s important to remember that by not being mindful those feelings (and their impact on your body in terms of stress hormones) don’t go away because you’re trying not to think about them. If you can sit and just feel them for a while, they will actually have a chance to dissipate. They’re trying to tell you something and if you ignore them, they shout louder.

Building a mindfulness practice takes effort. It’s a bit like going to the gym, or going for a walk or a run. We often really resist going, but we’re usually glad we did.