Five Common Meditation Problems and What You Can Do About Them

Part Two of our post on meditation explores the common challenges faced by beginners and how to overcome them!

Why I love to meditate

I have been meditating on and off from the last 10 years and developing a meditation practice has been one of the most challenging yet most rewarding things I’ve done in my life! I notice that when I am meditating regularly, I am a happier and more content individual and when I stop doing it for extended amounts of time, I find myself struggling with self-doubt and feeling quite un-grounded. That’s what makes me come back to it …

The thing that I love most about meditation is that it has taught me to be more aware of my emotional states and helped me understand my own thought process. I feel that it has made me more empathetic towards the emotional needs of others and enabled me to develop the ability to see things from their perspective. It has allowed me to develop a kinder, gentler approach towards myself and those around me and be more grateful for everything that’s going well in my life.

Common challenges while trying to develop a meditation practice and what you can do about them!

There is no ‘right way’ to meditate.

Consistency and a gentle approach are key to cultivating a meditation practice that can support your wellness routine. Below are some of the reasons people shy away from meditation and some tips and strategies for dealing with them!

Challenge 1:  “I can’t stop thinking”

You’re trying to meditate and your mind keeps wandering off to anything but your practice. Or, you may encounter this problem in the form of a constant self-talk that just doesn’t seem to stop, making it difficult for you to concentrate on your breath or tune in to the sensations in your body.

What you can do: Thoughts arising while trying to meditate is quite natural and it’s important to realize that meditating doesn’t mean you’ll stop having thoughts altogether! Instead, meditation is a tool for training our minds to focus and redirect our thoughts.

If you find yourself struggling to concentrate while meditating, try using a technique called breath counting. An effective method to calm down a busy mind, breath counting involves counting every breath cycle. Each inhale followed by an exhale is one complete breath cycle.

Here’s how it works: Inhale. Pause. Exhale and at the very end of your out-breath mentally count “1.” Again, inhale, pause, exhale, and then at the end of your out-breath mentally count, “2.” Continue to count all the way to “10”, and then restart from “1”. Don’t worry if you lose count, just reset your inner counter and begin from “1” again.

The way this method works is simple. By keeping the mind occupied with a simple task, it will have less tendency to wander off.

Challenge 2″: “I keep nodding off or spacing out”

Drowsiness and spacing out are common obstacles when trying to meditate. Some people even fall asleep in the middle of a meditation. While mental relaxation is one of the goals of meditation, it is important to stay alert and present to get the full benefits of the practice including improved mental clarity and focus.

What You Can Do: When you catch yourself nodding off or spacing out, see if you can inject more energy into your practice. This can be done in many ways. If doing a seated meditation, see if you can sit with a tall spine and engage your abdominal muscles gently. Sitting on a chair with your feet grounded or against a wall can also be helpful.

Each time you notice yourself getting distracted, simply return your attention back to your breath. You can also repeat an affirmation or mantra in your mind. For example, if relaxation is your goal, try repeating one of the following in your mind:

My mind is clear and focused.

I am free from stress and worry.

I am at peace with myself.

If you still feel drowsy, then stand up and do some walking meditation around the room or outside in nature.

 Challenge 3: “I find it hard to visualize”

Visualization exercises during meditation are a healthy way of bringing positive energy into your mind, body and spirit. Meditation and visualization experiences will vary though for different people. Some people are disturbed by the vivid colors, light or visions they see during meditation, while others are troubled by the fact that they see none of those.


What You Can Do: First off, seeing colors, light or visions is not an indication of one’s meditation prowess. When you meditate, try dropping all expectations and just make your best effort to concentrate! Guided visualizations can sometimes be helpful and with practice you may notice an improvement in your ability to visualize.

Remember that visualization is just one form of meditation, you can always turn to other techniques if it doesn’t work for you.

Challenge 4: “When I meditate, I experience uncomfortable sensations in my body”

It’s very common to experience cramps, pain, tingling sensations and the feeling of being too hot or cold while trying to meditate and this can hold us back from developing a consistent practice.

What You Can Do: Make sure your meditation posture or external environment is not the cause of the sensation you are experiencing. Try a posture that is suitable for your body. If sitting on the floor gives you pain, sit on a chair instead. Adjust the temperature of the environment you are in to make it more comfortable. Add on a layer if you feel cold or wear less clothing if you feel too warm. As for tingling in the arms or legs, when we sit or remain in one position for too long, we can get pins and needles due to poor blood circulation. This sensation is temporary and will be gone in a short time. You can prevent it or hasten the circulation of blood by doing some stretching exercises or simple yoga before and after meditation.

 If you ever experience any unexplained sharp or stabbing pain, don’t ignore it. Ask for a medical checkup to rule out any physical cause for the symptom.

 Challenge 5: “I can’t seem to relax”

You may be familiar with the following scenario: you are trying your best to relax with a calming meditation at the end of a long and stressful day but your mind just won’t settle down. Your body refuses to relax causing you to become even more stressed and anxious!


 What You Can Do: It is very difficult to meditate when the mind is highly agitated, like after a highly stressful experience. The mind is so caught up with its own world, it won’t be able to focus on breathing or anything other than what it is currently obsessed with. To get it out of this state, a better strategy would be to dispel some of its energies through external means. Exercising, listening to music, going for a walk or talking to a friend can all help take our mind off our worries during times of high stress and anxiety. At other times, we practice meditation to gain more compassion, patience, wisdom and inner strength to increase our resilience to stress as well as to moderate our response to it.

Still nervous to give Meditation a try on your own?

Taking the first step is often the hardest. We want to make it easy. Simply fill out our contact form with the word MEDITATION and we will give you FREE access to one of our On-Demand classes featuring a Guided Meditation.

What are some of the challenges you face while trying to meditate? Do you have any tips or strategies that have worked for you? Please share with us by commenting below or reaching out to us. We look forward to working with you on your journey towards cultivating a meditation practice!