3 roadblocks to starting a mindfulness practice

Couple driving during sunset, enjoying themselves and experiencing mindfulness.

You’ve been meditating for awhile.

You feel the benefits. You’re calmer, more clear-headed and experience a growing sense of peace. But you want to take your game to the next level.

You’ve heard that mindfulness can help, but aren’t sure how to get started.

I’ve been there, dude.

The thing is, you’re probably hitting roadblocks—you’re just not aware of them. I certainly wasn’t until they were far behind in my rearview mirror. So let me share some insights to help you bypass barriers on the journey to your new mindfulness practice.

1. The topic could kill a party conversation

If you’re like most dudes, you probably don’t have any buddies who talk about mindfulness on the daily.

Even as someone who practices every day and teaches mindfulness, I only have one friend who I ever discuss the topic with. The fact is, most people just don’t talk about it. Though mindfulness is certainly catching on in the mainstream, it’s not exactly a socially encouraged topic. In other words, you might get a couple weird looks if you bring the subject up at a party.

The point is, like many things, if it’s out of sight (or out of ears in this case), it’s out of mind.

In my own experience, I will say my one friend is a huge help. In fact, he’s more than a friend, he’s actually a mindfulness teacher himself—yes, even teachers have teachers. Without him, I wouldn’t have the daily mindfulness practice I do today.

Now, I’m not suggesting you necessarily shell down some dollars for a teacher (though that can certainly help, as it has for me).

What I do suggest is you find at least one friend, or some kind of community, where you can talk about mindfulness every week. With this, you should be able to chat about the topic, learn from others and find ways to improve your practice.

2. You’re not enjoying the ride

Road trips are fun. You roll the windows down, blast some music and sip some big gulps as you enjoy the freedom of the open road. But many people don’t think of their mindfulness journey in the same way.

If you read my recent post Be present: What does it mean to live in the moment?, you may recall a little term I threw down called “end-gaining”.

If you missed it or forgot what the word meant, here’s a refresher:

End-gaining is when you focus on the end result, instead of the process. When you try to complete a task without caring about the quality of your actions, you are end-gaining.

Mindfulness is all about the process. It places primary importance on the way you do things, instead of the place you’re going. Society is actually a hindrance here. Mass culture typically focuses on getting things done and moving forward, not enjoying the ride, or the road trip of your mindfulness journey. This is a major obstacle

How can you get around it?

Well, you gotta hit the brakes on your life, or slow down so to speak. And speaking of which, that’s where the last roadblock comes in.

3. Free time has become a memory of your childhood

The rat race. The constant drive to always do and get things done. If you’ve followed this blog for awhile or read An Ordinary Dude’s Guide to Enlightenment, you’ve heard me talk about busyness before. Lack of free time isn’t just an issue because it’s exhausting and wasteful. It also distracts you from practicing mindfulness.

You see, mindfulness requires conscious action. It’s a purposeful and deliberate practice. So space, or time, must be created to consciously integrate it into your daily life.

So schedule free time into your week. Literally block off a few hours a week in your planner to just chill. But during this time, avoid technology. That means turn off your phone, TV, computer and unplug from the internet. Doing this is absolutely essential because the rat race is somewhat a product of technology. It’s message of go, go, go, “get things done” and “you’re missing out” are all constantly broadcast through the media you consume. So turn it off.

Think of these hours like free time when you were a kid at camp or some all-day activity.

You never used technology. You did things like played cards, colored or did a puzzle. Those all all options, but you could also spend these few hours a week doing things like meditation, hikes in nature or walks around your block and even just time to lie on the couch and stare into space. The process of unplugging has an incredibly calming effect on your mind and body and will allow you to consciously make decisions about your life and how you want to live it. And that’s really what mindfulness is about: making conscious choices and actions that help you live a more enjoyable, peaceful and happy life. So bring back free time.

Break through your roadblocks today

Today is your first step.

And if I can make one suggestion, it’s this: follow tip #1 and find someone to talk mindfulness with.

This will make the biggest difference in your practice because it will inadvertently help you bypass the other two blocks. When mindfulness is on your mind every day, you can’t help but practice and be more conscious of end-gaining and a busy schedule.

The sooner you get started, the sooner mindfulness will become a part of you.

And that clarity, peace and calm you experience in meditation will begin to permeate every area of your life.

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