Why Meditating Isn't Helping You

You tried meditation. You dutifully focused on your breath for 20 minutes. Day after day. But things don’t seem to be getting better. And if you do notice progress, it is painfully slow. Here’s why meditation may not be working for you, and what you can do about it.

buddhist monk, focus, meditation, mindfulness

Meditation, and its more clinical-sounding cousin, mindfulness, have fast become the go-to solutions for the challenges of modern life.

Stressed? Try meditation. Distracted? Try mindfulness. Need to clear your mind? Or be more productive? Or boost your creativity? Or have a transcendental experience? A staggering array of meditation apps, downloads, courses, seminars, retreats, books and coaches is readily available.

Google and a rapidly growing list of other companies offer meditation courses for their employees. Headspace, a go-to meditation app, has been downloaded over 65 million times, with 600 companies offering the app to their employees. Calm, it’s closest rival, counts 43 million downloads, and 300 corporate accounts.

The meteoric rise in interest in meditation, and consequent availability of meditation resources, is well founded. A range of scientific studies show that meditation can lower stress and anxiety, reduce the inflammation that comes from stress, improve sleep, decrease depression and better regulate emotion, boost self-esteem, strengthen focus, lengthen attention span, lower blood pressure, improve memory, help control pain, and even help fight addiction. Regular meditation can actually physically change the brain for the better.

Not bad for just following your breath for 20 minutes a day.

Still . . .

Lots of people have tried meditation, but remain stressed. How many of you feel quite calm and centered while you’re meditating, only to watch that all go out the window the minute you encounter an unruly child or a toxic boss?

Others know they would benefit from meditation, but find it challenging to commit to a regular practice. And as encouraging as some of the stu