Question from a discouraged meditator

Dear Dr. Kelly:

My doctor recommended Mindfulness meditation to me for stress management. I took a brief introductory class and have been trying to practice on my own for the past few weeks. The problem is that my mind is racing all over the place most of the time. I can focus on my breathing for about 5 seconds (max) and then I’m off worry about something or another. It’s very discouraging, and frankly stressful, which sort of defeats the purpose! Any advice for how I can improve my concentration?

A Discouraged Meditator

Dear Discouraged Meditator,

You are not alone.  The problem you have described is very common for beginning meditators.  It takes some time and practice to learn to meditate effectively but there is no reason that you cannot become very good at Mindfulness meditation if you have proper instruction.  There are many variations of Mindfulness meditation.  Perhaps the technique that you were taught is not the most appropriate one for what you need now.  In order to do Mindfulness meditation properly we need to be able to concentrate so we can, more or less, keep our attention on the thing that we are focusing on.  At our Clinic we teach a breath counting meditation to people who say, as you have, that their minds are “racing all over the place.”  I have recorded a guided meditation for you so you can learn to do Breath Counting Meditation.  The download is free.  Give it a try, once a day, for 2 weeks.  It will help you develop your concentration skills so you can get more benefit, and less frustration, from you meditation practice.

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Dr. Paul Kelly

Dr. Paul Kelly is the founder of The Mindfulness Clinic. He is a Registered Psychologist in Ontario and has been meditating for more than 40 years.

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