Meditation can seem like one of those things where the more you need it, the harder it is to do. I have been meditating for 19 years and still have times when I can’t seem to ease into it.
The mind may be chaotic for good reason. It’s trying to tell you something! You may be dissatisfied with your career, feeling dis-ease with your family, stretching yourself too thin to find balance, be overstimulated…. or all of the above! It’s a beautiful thing to start to identify what some of the underlying issues may be to your busy-ness so that they can be addressed in due time.
The #1 most important factor in being able to meditate successfully is not your ability to strong arm your thoughts but instead your ability to LET GO OF JUDGEMENT.
If you fall asleep while you were meditating, AWESOME, you needed sleep! If your mind thinks of 5 things at once during your attempts toward emptiness, GREAT, you were able to narrow the 20 things you were previously thinking of to 5! If you get upset at the neighbors for making noise during your sacred silence, SUPER, you discovered underlying frustration you didn’t know you had! The point… it’s all good. Really. Give yourself some love and appreciation for trying and you’ll find as you relax into grace meditation becomes much less of a struggle. After all it’s supposed to be “liberation from suffering” not a cause of it.
Many teachers have lots of techniques you can use to focus the mind. You may find that one day a certain tool will work for you and on another a different technique feels more appropriate. You can focus your eyes on piece of art, a candle, nature or keep them closed. You can submerse yourself in sounds that relax you and you can find any number of postures for your body that allow you to forget about it for the allotted time.
For beginners I recommend lying down and comfortably elevating the legs with deep belly breathing and focusing the mind on the feeling of ‘peace’ allowing all the sensations and mental pictures that invokes. The physical benefits of this alone include a calming of your nervous system, increasing your lymph flow and thus boosting your immune system in only 10 minutes!
My favorite technique when I’m feeling so overwhelmed I can’t even begin to relax is to concentrate intently on thinking of as many things as I can, as quickly as I can, all at once! Try it. Poof! The brain gives up and AHHhhhhhhh… PEACE and a subtle chuckle at the irony. -I’ve literally done this in line at the grocery store.
Eventually you’ll find a method or two that work for you. Practice some discipline and attempt your technique for a while (even a few minutes) once or twice a day to teach the mind that there is time for thought, and there is time for emptiness.
Emptiness is a profound wavelength. As you settle into your practice you may notice separation from your physical body, your mind and who you thought you were. Then arises “WHO AM I” without mind/body/tasks/titles/etc. This question has driven men mad and been the source of spirituality of the sages. Stillness has a funny way of bringing up everything you thought you’ve already worked through and more. Ease into it all with an open breath and compassion for the journey you will discover. Transformation comes as you honor and love what arises from this clarity. The power of presence endlessly strikes awe within my soul.
When you become comfortable with breathing peace during your mediations take it outside where life happens. Practice being grounded as you do the dishes, be mindful during the rush hour commute, bring silence to co-worker gossip, give thanks for each step you take. The practice of presence is the gateway to joy, harmony and unshakable peace when you choose to BE in love… in this moment… one moment… at a time.