If you’ve ever tried meditation of any kind then you have probably experienced the “meditation blues”, i.e. you sit and focus on your breath or your mantra or whatever it is you do but the “monkey won’t sit still” by which I mean, your mind won’t chill out.
It just keeps racing and whirring and you find yourself thinking about this, that or the other. You shuffle and fidget, can’t get comfy. The noises from outside get up your ass. The temperature is too hot or too cold. You start falling asleep…
I have been meditating for over 15 years and I still experience this problem regularly. It’s ok though because I have a very simple 3 step solution to the issue.
1 – don’t worry about it
2 – return to your focus point
3 – rinse & repeat
1 – Don’t Worry, Be Happy
There are two main skills to meditation: becoming aware of what the mind does and learning not to judge what the mind does.
I often hear people say “Oh, yeah I tried meditation and I REALLY need to learn to de-stress but I just can’t do it. My mind won’t stop and I just get annoyed.”
News flash: your mind won’t stop. My mind won’t stop either. It’s like your heart, when it stops, you’re in trouble! The thing is if you meditate successfully, you can come to a point where your mind quite simply, relaxes and becomes very calm. Then you will notice thoughts as they arise, and be able to simultaneously let them go, like letting go of a ball, so that they simply fall away.
But that is getting a little ahead of ourselves. The first step is to to become aware of your thinking as it happens. The second is to notice how you react to these thoughts as they happen. Do you get annoyed about them? Do you get lost in them? Do you indulge in pleasant thoughts? Do you worry and fret? Hold imaginary conversations in your mind?
Whatever it is you do, just become aware of it and then practice “not minding” whatever it is that happens up there in your skull. By carefully avoiding the trap of reacting to our thoughts and over-identifying with them, we empower ourselves. It is a victory of your Higher Power over your Lower Power, and it is by getting in touch with our Higher Power (or Higher Self, Big I Am, God, Spirit, Rational Mind, whatever you want to call it) that the benefits of meditating are realised.
So try not to worry about your thinking. Just accept it as normal and…
2 – Return to Your Focus Point
When you have noticed your thinking and, with any luck, managed to avoid reacting negatively to your thoughts, re-direct your focus back to your breath, mantra or whatever it is that you are focussing on in your meditation. To my knowledge, all meditation revolves around focussing on something that is happening now, in the moment. This is the power of meditation, it places you firmly in the only place that you HAVE any power – the present moment.
Ideally your focus should be on something that only exists in the present moment, which is usually identifiable as something you can experience via the sense (sight, hearing, etc). Sensory information is received in real time.
3 – Rinse & Repeat
Returning to your focus point is the “work” of meditation. If your mind is noisy and busy, you may need to re-focus many times before you start to really get into a good space. This is normal. Your mind probably needs to process everything that is spinning around up there, just go with it and keep going with it for as long as you are going to sit there.
If you decided to sit for 20 minutes, then do it for 20 minutes, even if you never get to the good stuff that day. Meditation is a skill that gets better with lots of practice. It may not always be fun but there is a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow in the forms of all the amazing benefits of meditation, of which there are so many, not least inner-peace and better health.
Don’t worry. Re-focus. Keep going. When I do this, even on “busy mind days”, I usually eventually arrive to that wonderful, peaceful space and experience the healing bliss and peace and re-connection with my Higher Power that I crave. You can too!
p.s. Here’s a rough demo I did just 3 nights ago of some meditation music I am working on right now. This one is about this very topic, how the mind is busy, with occasional moments of peace and stillness. Let me know if you enjoy it…