Why is it so hard to meditate?

The Paradox of Meditation

Meditation has been a subject of fascination and reverence for centuries, garnering accolades for its ability to promote emotional and mental well-being. In recent times, scientific research has lent credibility to these ancient wisdoms, highlighting an array of physical and psychological benefits from reduced stress to enhanced cognitive functions. Despite this, one might observe an intriguing paradox: although people are aware of the boons of meditative practice, a significant percentage struggle to incorporate it into their daily routines. This article aims to unravel the various factors contributing to this discrepancy and offers solutions for overcoming these barriers.

Understanding the Benefits of Meditation

Before delving into the challenges, it is crucial to understand why meditation enjoys the reputation it does. The practice, rooted in mindfulness, has been associated with a multitude of health benefits:

  1. Reduced Stress: Meditation has been shown to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, leading to a more relaxed state of mind.
  2. Improved Focus and Attention: Mindfulness practices enhance cognitive functioning, including better attention and focus.
  3. Enhanced Emotional Well-being: Regular meditation has been linked to increased levels of serotonin, often considered the “feel-good” neurotransmitter.
  4. Better Physical Health: From reduced blood pressure to improved immune system responses, meditation has demonstrable physical benefits as well.

Studies from renowned institutions like Harvard Medical School and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) affirm these benefits, placing meditation as a highly recommended practice for overall wellness (Harvard Health Publishing, 2018; NIH, 2020).

The Growing Popularity and the Missing Continuity

While it is true that more people are gravitating towards meditation, thanks to its increasing mainstream acceptance, what is less publicized is the frequency of practice. A survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that 14.2% of American adults reported using meditation in 2017, a considerable increase from 4.1% in 2012 (CDC, 2018). However, there are fewer statistics that elucidate how regularly these individuals engage in meditation. It’s one thing to try meditation, but it’s another thing entirely to make it a sustained practice.

The Barriers to Regular Meditation

Several factors act as roadblocks in the path of making meditation a regular habit. These include:

Psychological Barriers

  1. Expectation vs. Reality: Many individuals approach meditation with grand expectations of immediate serenity and transformative experiences. When reality falls short, frustration sets in, leading to discontinuation.
  2. Perceived Complexity: The various techniques and schools of thought can overwhelm a beginner, who might then decide that meditation is too complex to undertake.

Sociocultural Barriers

  1. Time Scarcity: In our fast-paced society, setting aside even a few minutes can seem burdensome.
  2. Cultural Stigma: In certain circles, meditation might still be viewed as esoteric or ineffective, discouraging new participants.

Practical Barriers

  1. Lack of Guidance: Many people don’t know how to start or proceed with a meditative practice, leading to eventual abandonment.
  2. Environmental Constraints: Not everyone has a quiet and comfortable space conducive for meditation.

Addressing the Barriers

Counteracting Psychological Barriers

  1. Setting Realistic Goals: Recognize that meditation is a skill that takes time to master. Start with short durations and celebrate small wins.
  2. Simplified Techniques: For beginners, straightforward methods like focused attention on breath can be more accessible.

Overcoming Sociocultural Barriers

  1. Prioritizing Well-Being: It’s essential to regard meditation as a non-negotiable part of your wellness routine, akin to eating or sleeping.
  2. Community Support: Engaging in group meditation or seeking support from like-minded individuals can offer motivation and dispel cultural taboos.

Tackling Practical Barriers

  1. Accessible Resources: Utilize guided meditation apps or enroll in classes to acquire proper technique and structure.
  2. Creating Space: If finding a physical space is difficult, noise-cancelling headphones and eye masks can create a makeshift meditative environment.


In summary, while the science-backed benefits of meditation are widely acknowledged, the journey from awareness to consistent practice is fraught with challenges. Addressing these barriers consciously and making appropriate adjustments can pave the way for a fulfilling and sustained meditation practice. The first step in overcoming these hurdles is acknowledging them, and the next is taking proactive measures to dismantle them. As the proverbial saying goes, the longest journey begins with a single step, and that applies ever so fittingly to the journey within.

With the understanding that this issue affects a broad spectrum of people, addressing the barriers to meditation can enable us to unlock a treasure trove of emotional and physical well-being. Making meditation a regular practice can be a fulfilling journey towards a more conscious and mindful existence.


  1. Harvard Health Publishing. (2018). Mindfulness meditation may ease anxiety, mental stress. Retrieved from Harvard Health Publishing
  2. National Institutes of Health (NIH). (2020). Meditation: In Depth. Retrieved from NIH
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2018). Use of Yoga, Meditation, and Chiropractors Among U.S. Adults Aged 18 and Older. Retrieved from CDC