How to Meditate When You “Can’t” Meditate

Black female with her eyes close sipping a hot drink in a clean living space

I teach the concept of meditation as part of every aspect of my coaching business. Meditation is vital to maintaining a calm mind and clear thinking. It is something that everyone should do if they want to effectively and efficiently achieve their life goals. However, I am often met with the same objection by many of my clients when I encourage them to begin a meditation practice. I usually get the response, “I don’t know how to meditate.”

And I completely get it. I used to have the same problem when I first started trying to meditate. I found it difficult to sit still for 5 minutes, let alone an hour. It wasn’t easy to clear my mind and focus on my breath or anything else. I was frustrated most of the time until I just gave up about 2-3 weeks after my first go at it.

But, I am not a quitter, and I desperately wanted to experience the many benefits that I had heard it offers. So, I dug in and started doing more research on the subject. And when I truly focused on the definition, I learned something that changed the way I thought about meditation.

What is Meditation?

When I first started trying to meditate, I viewed it strictly from the practice of eastern religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. But when I thoroughly examined the definition of meditation, I learned that it is so much more than what I originally thought. It is not tied to any specific religious practice, and there isn’t a uniform way to meditate. Instead, meditation is simply focused concentration. That’s all.

Once I understood the simplicity of this definition, I realized that I have been meditating all my life. Albeit, the ways that I had been meditating were not always beneficial for me. You see, you can maintain focused concentration on anything – the good, the bad, and the ordinary.

Negative Meditation

In many cases, people are anxious, depressed, and full of negative emotions because they do indeed meditate. They focus on unhealthy thoughts to the point that they overwhelm their minds and manifest an unpleasant life. In which case, they continue to focus on the negative aspects of their life, and in turn, they continue to manifest unpleasant results.

Positive Meditation

Conversely, other people naturally focus on positive things. Consequently, they manifest positive outcomes in their life. The average person who thinks positively on a continuous basis doesn’t necessarily sit in a lotus position focusing on her breath or reciting mantras every day. Many of these people focus on positive things or have positive thoughts while engaged in a variety of different activities. This speaks volumes to the power of focused concentration using any method.

Controlling Your Thoughts

So, this is what I learned about meditation. I realized that I was indeed meditating. In fact, I was meditating a lot because I used to live inside my head. I was literally thinking too much. Some of my thoughts were positive, but many of them were negative. However, I learned to control them through intentional meditative practices once I understood that I needed to change my thought patterns.

Effective Ways to Meditate

I realized that in order for meditation to be effective for me, I had to enjoy what I was doing. I didn’t want to force myself to meditate. This was not pleasurable or beneficial for me. Meditation must be enjoyable for you to make it a part of your daily routine. Therefore, you should pair it with something that you actually like doing.

For me, this was a number of things. Since I used to live inside my head so much, the practice of visualization appealed to me immediately. So I decided to do some research and figure out how to effectively incorporate this practice into my daily routine. After I started consistently visualizing, I decided to add other methods into my routine. I get bored doing the same thing, so I wanted to add some variety to my practice. In which case, I started to maintain a gratitude journal and say affirmations.

These additions really helped me gain momentum to the point that I naturally found myself meditating 2-3 times a day. I started enjoying and looking forward to my meditation practices. And I still do. Now, I even enjoy a more fruitful meditation practice because I utilize many of the following methods that have helped me focus even more and gain better clarity.

Alternative Ways to Meditate

So if you are interested in alternative ways to meditate, you may find some of the following techniques helpful:

  • Sun, star, or cloud gazing
  • Spending time in nature
  • Listening to meditative music
  • Listening to nature sounds
  • Dancing to African drums
  • Singing positive, uplifting songs
  • Sitting in a quiet, clean environment

When you fully engage yourself in any of the above-mentioned practices, you are actually meditating. Fully engaged means that you are completely focused on the activity that you are involved in. You can say affirmations, mantras, or visualize while engaged in the activity, but this is not necessary.

The key is to be fully present and in the moment. These activities are naturally beneficial. All you need to do is free yourself from mental overstimulation. Or at least center yourself when you start noticing the noise of internal dialogue. It’s just that simple.


Meditation is meant to be medication. And for it to serve this function, it needs to be practical and enjoyable. It should not be complicated or overwhelming. Otherwise, it only adds to your stress level. So if you find it difficult to meditate, try to spend time fully focused or engaged in your favorite activities.

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