The Top 5 Challenges of Meditation

The Top 5 Challenges of Meditation

The Top 5 Challenges of Meditation

Meditation is something that I believe truly benefits everyone.

Meditation is something that I believe truly benefits everyone. There are some common experiences that can come up in meditation, ones that I have personally experienced and also that are mentioned by people new to meditation.
We may seek out meditation for different reasons, may it be for relaxation and stress reduction, overall health, mental health struggles, focus and clarity, or maybe even to connect to our intuitive nature. All reasons are valid. Meditation has many benefits.
To the new practitioner, meditation can seem overwhelming and maybe even that it’s something that is unachievable. This cannot be farther from the truth. Meditation can and is accessible to all people. Meditation In my opinion is less about having a clear mind (which can be a benefit of regular practice and an eventual goal) and more to do with bringing our awareness within ourselves.
So much of our time is spent focusing on things outside of ourselves. Our jobs, relationships, home life, bills, and on and on. And when we seek answers the first place that we go is often outside of ourselves as well to books, videos, social media, courses, our friends, coworkers and family.
We follow how to’s and what not to dos. We make unending to do lists. We run around consistently trying to do it all and yet we rarely stop to look within. To really slow down and sit with something and see what feels right for us. We rarely take the time to check in with our bodies, to see how we’re actually feeling, to see the connection between our thoughts, emotions and our bodies.
This is what meditation affords us. Time with ourselves. Time to look within. Time to bring our focus and awareness back to within ourselves. Time to leave the outside world and all the often conflicting advice and to find the wisdom within.
To do something that we rarely do will bring up some reactions from the brain (which is used to getting 100% of our attention), call it ego if you choose. Either way it will put up a fight. And when you notice this happen, know that it is perfectly okay, simply bring your attention back to the meditation and practice.

Getting Sleepy or Falling Asleep

If you find yourself falling asleep or getting sleepy during meditation know that this is a very common reaction especially to new practitioners.  I have found that falling asleep during meditation is a sign that either I’m not getting enough sleep or in some cases it is the way of the body avoiding something uncomfortable from coming up. If you fall asleep, this isn’t a reason to stop or start over, simply give yourself some compassion and get back into the meditation and finish.

Some things that may help include:

  • taking a short nap before meditation or doing your practice when you first wake up in the morning
  • do your meditation practice in an upright position; laying down will probably make you more likely to fall asleep
  • keep your eyes slightly open during your meditation practice

Irritation or Agitation

Irritation or agitation can be felt as a feeling of restlessness, restless legs, irritated skin, the inability to get comfortable. In my experience when this comes up I have difficulty staying still and I just want to run away from it. Often when I’ve had this experience come up in meditation, it’s when I am or am about to process very deep old energies.

Some things to consider and/or that may help:

  • the energy just wants to be seen; keep with it as long as you can; allow the discomfort to be there; it’s a part of your experience just as feeling calm or peaceful would be; you’re not doing anything wrong
  • bring some movement along with your practice such as yoga, qi gong, dancing or walking
  • know that it is only temporary and that this is when your body needs meditation the most

 

Impatience

I find this can come up with or without the irritation and agitation. I’ll just get this feeling and/or story in my mind that I just want to be done. The desire and/or story to keep checking my phone or wondering how much more is left on my timer. I also find that this one comes up when I’m processing or am on the edge of tapping into an old deep energy.

Some things to consider and/or that may help:

  • the energy just wants to be seen; keep with it as long as you can; allow the discomfort to be there
  • recognize that you’re feeling impatient and that is perfectly okay; it’s a part of your experience just as feeling calm or peaceful would be; you’re not doing anything wrong
  • know that it is only temporary and that this is when your body needs meditation the most

Distracted Mind

This one is probably one of the most common. Like I said the ego will fight back and it often will do so by trying to distract your mind with all sorts of stories. You may find that anything and everything comes up during your meditation practice. Questions about what you will eat for lunch, what you should do on the weekend or how much flour you need to make that cake recipe. Thinking about your to do list, about that fight you just had with your partner, or how you’ve always wished you could dance.

Even with regular practice there will still be days when you will have a more distracted mind and that is perfectly okay!

Some things to consider and/or that may help:

  • This is a very normal reaction; especially for new practitioners; the ego will put up a stink because it’s no longer getting all of your attention anymore
  • Simply notice that you are distracted; say “I’m feeling distracted,” let it go and move your attention back to your meditation

Judgement

Everyone has an idea of what they think meditation SHOULD be like. Often it’s of clear minds and a perfectly zen experience. Unfortunately while that may be the goal for some types of meditation and for some people, it’s not likely going to be the experience all the time and especially NOT when you first start out. When our practice isn’t like we THINK it should be we will probably have judgmental thoughts come up. We may judge our practice for what it is or what it’s not, judge ourselves for not doing better, and maybe even judge ourselves for judging ourselves. How is that for a conundrum eh?

Some things to consider and/or that may help:

  • This is also very normal. Judgement is something we all experience and probably more than we even realize.
  • Recognize that judgement is here; say “judgement is here”; let it go and move your attention back to the meditation.

 

Know that all of these experiences are normal. They do not mean that you are doing anything wrong; in fact it means that you’re doing it right. You are doing something new, you are challenging yourself, you are bringing awareness within and you are starting a journey to self-exploration which is a beautiful thing.

The key is to keep with your practice, know that the benefits outweigh the challenges that may come up. As you build your practice your presence will grow making it easier to face these challenges.

It’s just like learning to run. At first your lungs burn and it’s hard to run for more than a few minutes. Your muscles tire easily and you hurt after your workouts. But these are all signs that you haven’t built endurance and your body hasn’t built up the strength to maintain running for long amounts of time yet.

With meditation it takes regular practice and working through these challenges in order to built up self-awareness and connection to your inner self (presence). As your practice continues your presence will making it easier to face what comes up.

You have to feel the discomfort and continue in spite of it in order to get to the deeper awareness, to the deeper feelings of groundedness and calm.

To help get you started I’ve created a ten minute meditation that will help you to get started with your meditation practice. The meditation focuses on helping you relax and connect with your body. Click the image below to download your free meditation!

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Why You Need to Start Self-Nurturing and Self-Care During Stressful Times

I’ve said this many times but HSPs are prone to not only stress but staying in the stress response longer than the average person.

Stress as I’ve mentioned can impact our bodies in numerous ways.

In order to be able to take care of ourselves and our bodies, I believe that it takes three key parts.

Outside Expectations & Society

In our society, there is more of an appreciation for keeping busy, achieving big results and having “success.” Our values are to have more and be more. This can be dangerous because our personal value and the value that other place on us comes from how much we make and how much we can achieve rather than who we are as a person or living our truth.

There are so many expectations out there to do better and be better. Which can be not only overwhelming but also sometimes unachieveable. This is amplified by social media because all we see are the “good times” or what people want us to see.

Have you ever felt alone? Like you’re the only one struggling with your health or relationships or feeling alone?

From the outside it may seem like the people in our lives have it all and that they don’t have struggles. When the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

This can cause a dissociation from reality and we start to think that we are the only ones who struggle or get stressed. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

We all have things that we struggle with — we all go through tough times — no one is exempt from this.

We need to recognize that life will have ups and downs and that the world isn’t out to get us and also that we aren’t alone in the world.

Building Self-Awareness

The second part of this is building self-awareness and recognizing when we’re feeling stressed. So often we ignore the signals that our body is sending us and we continue to push ourselves despite feeling tired, emotional, or when we’re having sleep issues.

All which are signals from our body that are telling us that we need to slow down — to feel what’s going on. Instead our instinct may be to push it down and keep moving forward so that we can achieve our goals and “get shit done.”

When we start to recognize the little signs that our body sends us then we can start to make changes that support our health.

Becoming Self-Nurturing

Often how we were raised and how our parents or adult figures interacted with us is how we self-nurture. So if our parents were critical or had high expectations for us we may eventually reflect those same traits towards ourselves.  

This isn’t about blaming our families or parents as they were simply doing what they were taught as children and did the best they could with what they had.

However, it can help you to recognize how you talk to yourself and how you treat yourself.

As HSPs we have a strong urge to care for and take care of others and this can often come before taking care of our own needs. But if we do this for too long eventually it WILL have an impact on our health.

One of the things that has really helped me is to try to talk to myself and treat myself the way that I would a loved one. I would never talk harshly or critically to someone that I love when they are struggling, instead I would be understanding and show compassion. It also means that I try to take care of my health the way that I would take care of my loved ones. To encourage rest and self-care.

So when I catch myself being critical with myself — I’ll try to show myself compassion and understand that I was doing the best that I could in that situation.

When I catch myself working too hard and avoiding self-care — I stop and feel what my body needs. I slow down and focus on the necessary tasks in my life and stop everything else with a focus on my health and rest.

Are you looking to take the next steps in your health but don’t know where to start?

 

Are you ready to have more energy and kick the sugar & caffeine habit but are feeling stuck?

Are you tired of being tired and are ready to increase your energy naturally?

If so let’s get on a call to discuss how I can help.

Book your FREE 30 Minute Energy & Nutritional Consult below!

 

 

Well until next time my friends,

 

Remember …. It’s about loving yourself where you are so that you can get to where you want to go…one step at a time, one change at a time.

 

Gratitude & Hugs

Jenn Berkelmans

Jenn Berkelmans

Intuitive Wellness Coach

I coach women with sensitive souls who struggle with overwhelm & exhaustion. I help them to reconnect to their inner wisdom and find the stillness within that will allow them to thrive in this chaotic and loud world while helping them to create their own map to health and wellness.

How to Tell if Stress is Impacting Your Health

Stress is something that we hear about ALL THE TIME. It’s definitely something that we need to be aware of because it is a main contributor to a variety of diseases. And while we’re fortunate enough not to experience the type stress that was meant to trigger the stress response in the body (being chased by lions) — we do experience lots of emotional and mental stress in our daily lives.

The thing is that if we don’t figure out a way to cope with stress and regularly discharge and shut off the stress response — we are at risk for illness to develop.

Stress is connected to cardiovascular disease, digestive issues, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and a host of other issues such as premature aging.

So how do you know when you’re feeling stressed?

Signs That You May Be Feeling Stressed:

  • You have trouble shutting down your monkey mind at bedtime
  • You wake up multiple times throughout the night
  • It doesn’t take much to set off your emotions — crying or angry outbursts
  • You feel like you’re always full of tension – arms and shoulders are always tight and sore
  • You frequently get headaches – the ones that feel like someone is squeezing the back of your head
  • You often have a sense of dread — like something horrible will happen
  • You are unable to fully relax even when there is no immediate reason not to
  • Pounding heart, shaking hands and sweating..
  • Increased numbing behaviour such as eating and drinking

 

Does that sound familiar?

Yeah I get it. As an HSP I tend to get stressed so much easier than my family and friends and sometimes over the littlest things. It’s a fact that its HSPs enter into the stress response much easier than their peers AND tend to stay in it much longer.

The thing is that our body is not meant to stay in the stress response for prolonged periods of time and when this does happen — which is quite common these days — it puts our body at risk for dis-ease

Some of the Consequences of Prolonged Stress Include:

  • Fluctuations with blood sugar levels — insulin resistance
  • It can change blood pressure, blood sugar levels and insulin levels — which over time can cause inflammation in the blood vessels leading to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease
  • It slows down the digestive system which over time can decrease hydrochloric acid production — impacting digestion and absorption of nutrients — imbalances
  • It can also cause a host of digestive issues — IBS, GERD, ulcers
  • Changes to the immune system putting you at risk for illness
  • Impairs memory and concentration
  • Decrease in sex drive and libido
  • Issues with migraines or chronic headaches

 

I know that it sounds a bit scary but that’s not my intention — by bringing awareness to how you’re feeling and whether you experience chronic stress — it allows you to make changes to help reduce these effects.

Are you looking to take the next steps in your health but don’t know where to start?

 

Are you ready to have more energy and kick the sugar & caffeine habit but are feeling stuck?

Are you tired of being tired and are ready to increase your energy naturally?

If so let’s get on a call to discuss how I can help.

Book your FREE 30 Minute Energy & Nutritional Consult below!

 

 

Well until next time my friends,

 

Remember …. It’s about loving yourself where you are so that you can get to where you want to go…one step at a time, one change at a time.

 

Gratitude & Hugs

Jenn Berkelmans

Jenn Berkelmans

Intuitive Wellness Coach

I coach women with sensitive souls who struggle with overwhelm & exhaustion. I help them to reconnect to their inner wisdom and find the stillness within that will allow them to thrive in this chaotic and loud world while helping them to create their own map to health and wellness.

Top 3 Myths About Meditation and How You Can Start a Daily Practice

 

These are the top myths about meditation which hold people back from starting a daily practice. 

 

Myth #1 That in order to do meditation “right” that you have to empty your mind –Or That you need to wait until you’re “ready” to meditate

 

Truth: While the goal of meditation is to quiet the mind, having a meditation practice is simply how we try to get there. There will be days where the mind will be more busy and distracted and some days where it is more quiet. The idea is when you notice that you’ve started thinking about other things to simply redirect the mind back to your focus (your breath, mantra etc)

The key is to keep practicing. Like anything other craft the art is in the regular practice.

As with anything we won’t begin to have the benefits of something until we simply start. This means that starting where you are right now and go with that. Can you only do 10 or 5 mins to start? Start with that and see how that feels.

 

Myth #2: That you need to be religious or spiritual to meditate

 

Truth: While meditation is used in some religions and can be spiritual in nature it can simply be a tool for stress management, quieting the mind, and gaining more focus.

Meditation can help you tune into your deeper self (my definition of spirituality) but that doesn’t have to be your main goal.

Your goal may be to get a better sleep or to feel more calm

 

Myth #3: That you need fancy equipment in order to practice

 

Truth: I won’t lie that I’ve been eyeing up a beautiful meditation chair but it will have to wait for now. Meditation can be done sitting in a chair or on the couch, lying in bed or sitting on the floor on a yoga mat. You don’t need any special equipment or fancy tools. Just a comfortable quiet spot to sit and yourself.

 

5 Tips on How to Start a Practice

  1. There are a variety of techniques that can be used for meditation
    • Popular ways to focus attention are using a mantra, focus point for the eyes, focusing on breathing or focusing on what’s going on in the body.
  2. The key is to find something that you are comfortable with and starting with that
  3. There are many great resources out there to help
    • Apps:
    • Insight timer — free with music, sounds and guided meditations
    • Headspace — great for beginners and it allows you to do some beginning meditations for free
    • YouTube
  4. Create a comfy meditation space if you can — one that you can use on a regular basis (mine is beside my bed)
  5. Try to meditate daily for whatever timeframe that you are comfortable
    • Come with an open mind — curiosity and no judgement — be open to the experience
      • Don’t do anything that you’re not comfortable with but let yourself explore
    • Try for the same time of day to make it a habit (it’s the first thing that I do in the day)
    • Experiment and find what works for you

That’s it! It really is that simple. So don’t let your idea of getting things perfect or “just right” hold you back from the benefits of meditation. All you need to do is simply start.

Are you looking to take the next steps in your health but don’t know where to start?

 

Are you ready to have more energy and kick the sugar & caffeine habit but are feeling stuck?

Are you tired of being tired and are ready to increase your energy naturally?

If so let’s get on a call to discuss how I can help.

Book your FREE 30 Minute Energy & Nutritional Consult below!

 

 

Well until next time my friends,

 

Remember …. It’s about loving yourself where you are so that you can get to where you want to go…one step at a time, one change at a time.

 

Gratitude & Hugs

Jenn Berkelmans

Jenn Berkelmans

Intuitive Wellness Coach

I coach women with sensitive souls who struggle with overwhelm & exhaustion. I help them to reconnect to their inner wisdom and find the stillness within that will allow them to thrive in this chaotic and loud world while helping them to create their own map to health and wellness.

Emotions Are Your Paint: Embrace All The Colors

Emotions Are Your Paint: Embrace All The Colors

“It is a grave injustice to a child or adult to insist that they stop crying. One can comfort a person who is crying which enables him to relax and makes further crying unnecessary; but to humiliate a crying child is to increase his pain, and augment his rigidity. We stop other people from crying because we cannot stand the sounds and movements of their bodies. It threatens our own rigidity. It induces similar feelings in ourselves which we dare not express and it evokes a resonance in our own bodies which we resist.”                           ― Alexander Lowen

The Struggle

Well if you’re anything like me then you have or continue to struggle with your emotions (most people do). Women are brought up to believe that it isn’t proper to feel or express anger or frustration. While men are told that to cry is to show weakness. We are taught that the normal thing to do is to repress those emotions.

You would think that would be the end of it right? That if you ignore those uncomfortable feelings, plaster on a smile and continue on your merry way that everything will be just fine. But that’s not how it works. We repress them but the emotions don’t stay buried, they have a way of working their way to the surface. Then they wreak havoc in our lives. They cause us to reach for the cookie dough ice cream when we’re not really hungry, they make us lash out at our partner for minor things, they cause us to sleep with someone that we don’t even like in order to feel something else. 

My Experience

I know the perils of repressed emotion all too well. I spent years believing that showing too much emotion was a weakness. I have always had a deep love and compassion for animals often being told that I just had a “way” with animals. Unfortunately, while growing up I was often mocked for that special love and empathy. My feelings were often shrugged off as being “oversensitive” or an “overreaction”  and so I grew up believing that my feelings weren’t important.

This was the start of experiences which lead me to believe that “feeling too much” was not normal and also painful. So I cut the connection to my inner self, to my intuition, and my empathy. I learned to bury my emotions deep down inside of me, if I felt any anger, resentment or any “negative” emotion really it would get pushed down so far that it would never see the light of day again. 

(pin it for later)

To Feel Again

I spent years keeping those emotions buried deep within me. They caused me to lash out, to overeat, to emotional eat, to drink too much, and to do other things that caused harm to my body and my spirit. They held me back from making progress, from living my truth. They made me feel ugly and broken.

I remember coming home from work one day and having what had now become a typical evening glass of wine, which turned into two and then three and thinking “this can’t be all there is to life.” It was then that I knew I had to make some changes. I needed to break everything apart, clean out all the pieces and then figure out how to put it all back together again. So that’s exactly what I did. 

Lessons

Over the next few years I worked to change my life, to respect my body, respect my mind, and reformed a connection with my spirit. I didn’t realize how fractured I had become until I really looked at all the little pieces one by one. Nutrition led me to fitness, which led me to mindset, which led me to my spirit. Each part of the journey was important, integral to the whole. 

I learned that:

No one is perfect, including myself so I needed to stop expecting it of myself

That the person I needed love from the most was myself. 

That if I don’t make myself a priority that no one else will. 

That emotions are neither good nor bad, they are simply part of the human experience. 

That without sadness I cannot feel joy.

That without anger I cannot feel peace.

That without apathy I cannot feel passion. 

Emotions Are Art

As I’ve started to work through past experiences and emotions I have realized that our emotions are our own form of art

Our life is the canvas, the paint brush is our actions, and our emotions are the paint. As the painters of our lives we have the ability to use our paint whatever way we want to. We can choose to stick to only the light and bright colors, apprehensive to add other hues to our canvas in fear it may darken our painting.

Yet, it is the dark which accentuates and makes the light stand out even more. It helps strengthen the beauty of the painting, making it more vibrant and extraordinary. 

My advice is to accept the dark (sadness, pain, fear) and let it accentuate the light that is inside of you. Because you have a masterpiece just waiting to be made. 

 


   

Be brave, be true, and most important be unapologetically you,