Silent meditation techniques are widely used to calm the mind and enhance concentration. Some people refer to this type meditation as Vipassana (which means viewing things just as they are). However, there are a myriad of challenges that people face when performing silent meditation.
Have you ever been on a silent meditation retreat? It usually entails visiting a remote meditation center and practicing silent meditation for up to 10 days. Imagine spending 10 entire days away from the familiarity of personal conversations and internet connectivity. During those days, you neither communicate through eye contact with other people nor speak a single word. Sure it’s a bit tough, but it’s one of those experiences that are simply life-changing.
Here are 5 unique challenges of silent meditation
- Lack of patience
If you often feel like you should be working on something else when meditating, you are not alone. Most people find it hard to sit through an entire silent meditation session because of the nudging feeling of doing other “important stuff.” Impatience is a huge impediment to meditation, especially for beginners. The impatience we feel is really the inertia of our mindlessness – consider not giving in and by all means continue meditating.
To counteract this challenge, it’s important to understand the very existence of this particular feeling. Rather than give in to its demands, simply acknowledge the presence of this lack of patience. This acknowledgement empowers you to deal with the situation effectively instead of letting it rule you. Also remind yourself about the achieved and imminent benefits of meditation.
- Stopping short
As you continue meditating, you’ll reach a point where your mind will finally settle into a calm place. This could happen during your silent meditation retreat or practicing at home alone. When you reach this level, you might decide to terminate your meditation sessions abruptly, thinking that you’ve achieved the ultimate goal. On the contrary, dismissing your sessions early will cause you to miss out on the vast benefits of consistent meditation.
This pitfall could take you very long to overcome, so it’s important to continue meditating even when you feel the initial calmness. Desire to deepen your calm and enhance your clarity as well. You’ll find that the calm state of mind comes and goes, just like any other experience it is impermanent. You can learn to appreciate the moments of calmness as well as the moments of activity.
- Feeling like we are short of time
How often do we have the intention to meditate on a regular basis, only for us to toss aside this plan for “more pressing” issues? When it’s time to meditate, we always feel that there are dozens of unresolved tasks that require our attention at that particular time. It even gets hard to plan that silent meditation retreat that you’ve been thinking about for months.
The key to beating this challenge is to change our whole perception of meditation. Start viewing this practice as an integral part of your daily routine, just like taking a shower or taking breakfast. This way, you tune your mind to integrate daily meditation into your regimen. Most meditators find that the practice gives them more time to accomplish their daily routines rather than less, because we develop the mental space to be more direct and efficient in what we do.
- Lack of adequate sleep
Meditating without enough sleep can be extremely difficult. If you commence meditation when you’re tired and sleepy, you inevitably end up getting drowsy and dozing off. Not only does a sleep deficit rob you of your productivity, it also reduces your concentration and makes it hard for you to control your thoughts. This significantly reduces the effectiveness of your meditation sessions.
The key is to get ample sleep at night. Doctors recommend at least 7-8 hours of sleep. Allow your body to get the restoration it requires. If you’re finding it hard to fall asleep, try a few sleeping meditation techniques first when you go to bed. Also try meditating early in the morning, when you are fresh and rested.
- Feeling contented
Although feeling good after a couple of daily meditation sessions can be inspiring, it can also be our greatest obstacle. It’s okay to feel good, but don’t let this feeling erode your bigger resolve to persist with daily silent meditation. You might get the idea that you don’t need to continue meditating because you feel “contented enough.” However, following through with this thought will only undo your progress.
Avoid skipping too many meditation sessions because you feel good. You’ve cultivated a positive mindset already, and you don’t want regressing and losing all that calmness and positivity that you’ve built.
If you are thinking of going for a silent meditation retreat, it’s important to prepare properly beforehand. You could download an app that contains enriching daily meditations to guide you through your practice. I recommend the Mindworks: Guided Meditation App.