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Overcome These Five Obstacles to Your Mindfulness Meditation Practice

Many media outlets have been talking for a number of years now about how ubiquitous mindfulness is, the impact it’s having in a variety of sectors and all the wonderful science that continues to be published. But I noticed that many people in the media don’t talk much about the actual formal practice of mindfulness meditation and that’s probably because it can be a hard habit to establish. One thing I’ve learned is if you want to establish a practice you have to look directly at what’s getting in the way and allow those obstacles to be your greatest teachers.

Here are five obstacles that have been in people’s way for thousands of years and the antidotes to get over them.

  1. Doubt – The uncertainty about whether something will “work” or not often plagues many people in the beginning of their practice. The thoughts is, “this can work for others, but it won’t work for me.”  Sometimes doubt is healthy, teaching us to look closely at things before we buy them. But the unhealthy doubt just takes us away from experience before it teaches us anything.

    Antidote: We have to remember that thoughts are just thoughts; they’re not facts (even the ones that say they are). When we notice this doubt slipping

7 Comments to
Overcome These Five Obstacles to Your Mindfulness Meditation Practice

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  1. Excellent inclusion.

    On Doubt (or uncertainty), it might be too much to ask for beginners to “remember that thoughts are just thoughts”. It’s useful to ask an experienced teacher.

    In some situations, drowsiness can be an unconscious effort to dull the mind to avoid the impact of undesirable thoughts and unpleasant feelings.

    Agree with the importance to check on the attitude of desiring something else other than what’s true at the moment.

  2. No offense, but where did Elisha get his PhD from? I hope his thesis didn’t include phrases like:

    “look closely at things before we buy it.”

    “Get irritated comes up for many reasons.”

    “We have our brains to contend with who throw up all these obstacles”

    For heaven’s sake, get this guy an editor — it’s enough to make my brain throw up!

    • Why, how dare I say thing like this! Am I not aware that comments like this are hurtful and the moderator will not allow them to be post? I should concentrate on the CONTENT of what Dr. Goldstein says: that mediation is good for me and I should not have to worry about all the things that might interrupt my dedication to long, run-on sentence. Instead, I thank you for read this and I am hoping you enjoy it. I am also volunteer to edit the good Doctor’s writings so readable by English-speaking public.

      • Hi again,

        Just to clarify, if you’ve never commented before the system will hold any comment until it is approved. Otherwise, it leaves the comment section susceptible to spam. It’s a human who is approving these and so it doesn’t often happen right away.

        This is a great example of how we can get caught in the mind trap of misperception. Life gives us many opportunities to learn.



    • Hi WDDT,

      Thanks for letting me know of these corrections, I’m a perpetual student.



  3. I liked your article and find that as a Core Process Psychotherapist which is a mindfulness-based psychotherapy I find the 2 obstacles that are often brought in connection with therapy and will it work for me are doubt and irritation.

  4. Thanks for this article. I agree we often find information about how meditation is useful and less on how to actually do it. One very important factor that is often left out is the importance of the body. We hear so much about MIND-fullness, mind control, etc. and this has created a perspective (for some) that dealing with the mind directly is the main key. Any meditator knows working with the mind directly can be very challenging, working with the body is much easier. We can’t forget that when the body is balanced and harmonized through things like yoga, exercise, healthy diet, Ayurveda, and such, it greatly minimizes irritation, sleepiness, restlessness and doubt that can arise during seated meditation.


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