The most common complaint people have when they begin to meditate is that they can’t stop their thoughts. Their minds are so busy they can barely sit still, let alone find peace. They get bored, think of things they need to do, or worry about the things they forgot to do yesterday. They try to suppress the thoughts running wildly around their heads, and this only makes it worse.
Here’s the secret. Thoughts are a natural part of meditation. Even if you have the focus of a monk, there will be times when your mind wanders.
It helps if you have something to focus on. You can look at a candle flame, a flower, a picture that means something to you. You can listen to drumming, gentle music, a recording of ocean waves lapping against the shore. In many forms of yoga, the practitioner repeats a mantra (a word, sound or statement), either out loud or in his or her head.
If you don’t want to do this, you can simply notice the thought and let it go. Think of it passing through your mind like a cloud passing through the wide blue sky.
You might like to try this simple mantra. It is known as the ‘sound of the breath’ and has been used by yoga practitioners for thousands of years.
- Find a quiet place, sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes.
- Focus on your breathing. You might like to refer back to our first session for this.
- Breath naturally, feeling the breath move in and out your nostrils.
- Breathe in slowly, thinking the word ‘so’.
- Breathe out slowly, thinking the word ‘hum.
- Continue breathing in and out, thinking ‘so…hum…so…hum.’ Do this for at least 10 minutes.
- If you find you are getting distracted by thoughts, sounds, or physical sensations (like the pins and needles in your foot), return your focus to the words – ‘so…hum…so…hum’.
What if I fall asleep?
If your body is tired, let it rest. Try again another time.
If you fall asleep every time you meditate, then you need to check that you’re getting enough sleep. The quality of your sleep is important too – give up alcohol, coffee, chocolate etc for a few weeks and see if that helps.
Try sitting in a different place or at a different time of the day. Early mornings are great (before the kids wake up and demand you cook breakfast).
Your mind is attached to time and space
Your mind has been doing its own thing for so long it will probably have trouble being quiet. It will rattle on with all the things you should have done yesterday and all the things you need to do tomorrow. It will observe and judge and criticise and plan and wonder, while you sit there waiting for it to be still. Don’t be discouraged. Keep breathing. Acknowledge your thoughts and release them into that wide blue sky.
If you can take 10 minutes every day to sit, to breathe, to slip into that realm of pure existence that lies between your thoughts, then sooner or later you will catch a glimpse of the space that others call ‘peace’ or ‘bliss’. And you will begin to understand who you really are.
Missed our previous Monday Meditation posts?
Don’t forget our next 8 week Meditation Course starts this Monday!
Next week we’ll look at expanding awareness.