As an introvert, I struggle to stay in the moment and not overthink, but meditation has helped change that.
Although introverts are generally good at focusing on tasks, I, for one, have trouble grounding myself and staying in the moment. I have always known this about myself, but I always thought of it in terms of a flaw rather than just an objective part of my personality.
The thing is, it creates a lot of problems to not be grounded, and it exacerbates my anxiety. My introverted brain likes to daydream and explore the links between seemingly disparate ideas, which is a great thing. The trouble comes when my daydreaming interferes with daily tasks. My brain often gets caught in a tug-of-war between my ideas and creativity vs. mundane tasks.
So how do I drive in traffic, make appropriate break room small talk, and buy the groceries I need, you might ask? Read on to learn about one of my favorite grounding techniques: meditation. For years, I struggled to be still and meditate — I didn’t feel like it helped me at all. But the more I tried it, the better I became at it. And for us introverts — who tend to overthink a lot — meditation can be a lifesaver.
4 Meditation Tips for Those Who Struggle to Focus
1. Create a dedicated meditation spot with all your meditation tools.
As an introvert, I’m sensitive to my surroundings, so I have found it helpful to create a dedicated meditation spot. My house is old and on the smaller side, so basically every space has multiple functions. I don’t leave my meditation space set up all the time, but I do have a space that I can always go to, similar to an “introvert zen zone.”
Since this space has an important function, I keep it clean and clutter-free (which helps soothe my introvert brain). I also have easy access to all the items I deem essential for my meditations, including a candle, yoga mat, and pillows. The least little bit of discomfort can really distract me. So, naturally, physical discomfort is only going to add to a feeling of disconnection when you meditate — so do yourself a favor and get extra comfy pillows, blankets, and whatever you need to feel good in your meditation space. I know these may seem like small details, but they make a big difference. Then, since everything is at hand, I don’t have to go looking for things when I decide to meditate — it’s all right there, ready to go.
2. Set the scene, from aromatherapy to visualizations.
Next on the list is setting the scene. What visually relaxes you? What scents calm you? Lavender, for instance, may help reduce anxiety. Lighting candles and incense is one of my favorite parts of meditation. I choose scents based on how I’m feeling for the day. This step isn’t essential, but it’s a little something extra that will let your easily distracted brain know it’s time to settle down.
Next stop, find your happy place. This is highly personal. Wherever you might want to relax for the day, go there in your mind. Do what works for you. It can be a real place you have visited or completely imaginary. If you pick a real place, make sure it’s somewhere tranquil so that it helps you relax. Personally, I love flowers, always have. My happy place is frequently filled with cherry blossom trees, rose bushes, and the like, but you have to pick something that is comforting for you. When in doubt, a forest and a babbling brook will usually do the trick. I often like to visit the tree of life in my meditation. Overall, I find it an excellent visual trigger for focusing on earthly energy and positive vibrations.
To get to your happy place, you might try visualizing a ladder and climbing down it to whatever your setting of choice is. This helps my mind to become more enveloped in the meditation. At the end, I climb back up the ladder, which helps bring me out of the meditation.
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3. Don’t forget to breathe.
Now that we’re all settled in, it’s time to let your mind get into the meditation. Remember that a mind-body connection is what we’re after here, so focus on those deep, slow breaths. One of my favorite yoga teachers often starts her classes by telling people to scan their bodies for where they feel tension or exhaustion — and then take a deep breath into that area. It’s simple, but powerful — and really helpful in establishing that mind-body connection that so often eludes me.
Now here’s where I think it can be tricky for introverts to meditate. You have to bring your mind with you to that fabulous place of your dreams. If you pick a forest, focus on trees, but not just that. You need to notice every detail, every spot on the leaves, every notch in the bark. As introverts, our minds want to explore ideas and have imaginary conversations — and if you don’t pick a powerful, meaningful visualization, your mind will wander. Of course your visualization needs to be something tranquil for you. I find it best to choose a place in nature because nature is perfect as is. It may take some trial and error, but you will find one that works best for you.
4. Remember that it may not go perfectly the first time — and that’s okay!
At first, your mind will wander a lot — and that’s okay. The trick is to bring it back to your meditation. If you’re new to meditation, this is going to take some practice. If I’m having a rough day, it might take me 10 or 15 minutes to really get into the meditation. The important thing is to stick with it. Start out small — maybe five minutes is enough for you. As you get more comfortable, add five or 10 minutes at a time.
The hard part is, as introverts, we are big-time perfectionists — so while you want to be in a calm, happy state, your mind may want it to be perfect (even though you may be having trouble focusing). And it’s not that I don’t want to practice; I want perfection. So you’re going to have to fight this impulse.
Struggling? That’s okay — focus on your breath, focus on your visualization, and focus on how you want your body to feel. Maybe you need peace, maybe you need energy. Think back to those breaths you took in the beginning. Where did you send them? Focus on that.
I won’t lie, the work I am describing is hard. But it is worth it, especially for us introverts who have anxiety or overthink nearly everything. Meditation is a great way to keep yourself grounded in the moment. It’s also a great way to unwind from a long day, especially if you’ve had to interact with a lot of people or personality types (which is not in our comfort zone and very draining). It takes time for this to work, and you have to be patient with yourself. But if you give it time, it will help. Ongoing practice is key.
There are still days when I struggle. But the idea is to make things better, not perfect.
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