So, you keep hearing everywhere how wonderful meditation is for you but you just can’t manage to do it. Do you think that you’d love to receive the benefits of meditation that are promised to you, but you just can’t keep your mind still enough to get it to work for you?
You can take heart because you are certainly not alone. Meditation is a brilliant technique to use to enjoy benefits such as a reduction in stress, anxiety and blood pressure and an increase in happiness, calmness and overall wellness, however when your mind is so conditioned to mental chatter it becomes very difficult to calm it down and simply sit in silence, and unfortunately this is the point at which most people give up.
One of the first things people notice when they begin a meditation practice is that their mind seems even busier than usual. Thoughts seem to come from everywhere to fill your mind with chatter. Although this is how it feels, it’s actually not the case. You have around 60,000 thoughts that go through your mind each and every day. Most of these thoughts are habitual and repetitive, so you don’t even notice them as they come and go. When you sit to meditate and clear your mind you begin to notice each of these thoughts and that’s why it seems that your mind is so much busier. So it’s not really busier – it’s just that you’re just noticing thoughts that usually pass through without any acknowledgement.
This is actually a positive sign for your meditation practice though because you’re now becoming aware of how busy your mind really is and awareness is the first step in changing any behaviour pattern. The trick is in your perseverance. You may find initially that your meditations consist of nothing more than you constantly clearing your mind of thoughts. Instead of becoming frustrated with this, simply understand that this is the first stage of learning to meditate. Over time you will find small moments of stillness in your mind, and as you continue to practice, these moments will expand until you are meditating easily for your desired amount of time.
One of the easiest forms of meditation is a guided visualisation like the ones I’ve created here. A guided visualisation takes your mind on a journey so whilst you’re still having thoughts because you’re following the voice of the guide and picturing what they describe, you’re keeping the clutter thoughts out of your mind and therefore relaxing and calming your mind and your self. You’ll be amazed at how peaceful and centred you can be after a 10 – 15 minute guided visualisation.
If you find that you’re still really struggling with the notion of sitting still for half an hour whilst you’re trying to meditate, you may find an active meditation is easier for you to achieve initially. Meditation can also be focussing your attention on one thing and avoiding the distraction of multiple thoughts. An active meditation is done by taking a walk. You could go for a walk outside, or you could simply walk up and down the corridor of your office. As you’re walking, your focus remains on counting your steps. Refrain from thinking about your day, or even noticing your surroundings. Simply count your footsteps from one to ten and then start at one again. If you notice you’ve gone past ten in your counting, it’s a sign that you’re mind has become distracted. Just stop counting wherever you are and start again at one.
This method keeps your body moving so you don’t become fidgety as you may do when you’re sitting still and it also gives you something to focus on as well as a trigger to let you know when you’ve lost track. This active meditation technique is also very useful if you are particularly stressed or anxious about something.
Remember that meditation is a technique that requires practice. Simply knowing what to do, doesn’t mean that you can achieve it; in the same way that knowing how to run doesn’t mean you could complete a marathon. If you find you still can’t quite get the hang of meditation, you might find it useful to participate in a beginner’s meditation class to learn some extra techniques.
The benefits of meditation are too great to be ignored, so your practice is definitely worthwhile. Start small and slowly increase your times and before you know it you’ll be meditating beautifully and enjoying all the advantages that come along with it.