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I Can't Think of NOTHING, can I meditate and think?


Posted by Rebecca S.

I have ADHD pretty bad (the kind where you get put on ritalin as a kid). I'm too old for ritalin now (not that I would want to take it anyway) but my symptoms are just as bad. I can't sit still (yoga has helped) and my brain races from random topic to random topic. I've meditated with some success, but I always have to use a mantra, or focus on a burning candle or somehow distract my mind. Even though I know it's supposed to be good for me, I get bored FAST. On a certain level, I feel like I'm wasting time. What I'm wondering is that are some people really able to not think of ANYTHING? How? I'm big into yoga but I'm thinking while I do poses. Any advice? I need to decompress and I'm in the middle of a big project that has kept me from my regular yoga sessions, but I would like to try just meditating at home.
 
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One meditation you might find fun and challenging is this:

Attempt to remain an aware observer of your thoughts.

 

Attempt as a practice to notice each thought as it arises in your mind. Watch the thought -- as an observer of the thought. And at the same time, watch you watching the thought.

 

Acknowledge each new thought as it arises. Say "hi" to it. Ask it what it what it would like for you to get from it. And once you sense that it has revealed that, thank it. And then you can either allow yourself to consider what it has revealed, or gently release/dismiss the thought and wait for the next to capture your attention, or simply allow the thought to run its course and become aware again, as the observer, when a new thought has captured your attention.

 

Again, greet the new thought, observe yourself observing the thought, etc. On and on.

 

Your highly active mind might find this meditation's active combination of mindful awareness with detachment and interactive dialogue and  mystical awareness a fun and intriguing game that allows your mind to be the way your mind is.

 

Don't try too hard. That is probably the biggest mistake people make who believe that they are having difficulty meditating.

 

While researching/writing a book called "Prayer, Faith and Healing" in the mid-90s, I had an opportunity to sit in a small group and interact with the singer/songwriter Donovan, (the Donovan who was with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India at the same time the Beatles and Mia Farrow were there in the mid-60s). He said he wrote the song, "First There is a Mountain," as a sutra based on a meditation lesson that Maharishi taught.

The Maharishi taught, he said, that one needs never worry that their mind has drifted from their intent while meditating so long as they allow the awareness that this has happened to be part of the meditation and to use that it to gently guide themselves back to an intended focus. He said that Maharishi said that even the most advanced, masterful meditators experience this drift. And thus Donovan's song, describing it and the process: "First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is." 

 

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I see that you have an abundance of advice offered here from a variety of people. Please let us know how it goes and what seems to work for you.

 

Best,

kwc 

 

 

It just takes "practice" - If your mind is busy busy busy, let it chatter all it wants to - but keep your active awareness on your breathing - maybe mentally scan your body to be in touch with each part, from your toes, to ankles, to shins, knees, etc... And if you feel you are being taken over by the "monkey mind" (I am ADD, not ADHD, but I understand), force yourself to concentrate harder and stronger on your knee, or wherever you are in your scan...I hope this makes a little sense :) Let your automatic thoughts be the background noise - and your relaxing thoughts be your "louder" thoughts. Chanting Om while scanning, may help to drown out the chatter.

I read somewhere that when you are meditating, to allow the thoughts to flow, acknowledge them and let them pass without judging them or considering them. This makes me imagine myself driving or floating down a serene country road and letting my thoughts be the trees that I pass on my journey.

The more you train yourself to do this, it will get easier with practice.

Try Vipassana meditation.. It focuses on being mindful of your thoughts, NOT getting rid of your thoughts altogether, which is virtually impossible and just makes the entire task difficult and not particularly rewarding if you end up feeling like a failure each time. Like one of the other respondents said, the focus of meditation isn't to get rid of anything or to change what's happening, but rather, to become aware of it. You can be aware of your thought patterns without changing them at all--this kind of mindfulness and attentiveness to the present can work to sometimes get you outside of the vicious cycle of thinking. And boredom can also be your friend. If the above advice seems too difficult, consider guided meditations on CDs, chanting meditations, or deep breathing exercises. There are a million different ways to meditate--just find the one that calms you down and works for you, but don't pressure yourself into "not thinking."
You are not your thoughts. While it may seem like an amazing feat to totally clear your mind, the people who are able to do it do not teach it as a practice or seem to place much importance on it. It is basically because they don't identify with the thoughts that it ceases to be as interesting, at least nowhere near as compulsive. Or, even if it there is still compulsive thinking, it is just seen for what it is and is not considered problematic. Meditation has to do with the awareness that includes any thoughts that may arise, the absence of thoughts is a secondary effect that MAY happen but shouldn't be the criterion by which you judge the practice. Through all the changing thoughts your awareness is there in the background, when you get interested in the awareness itself the thought content just becomes irrelevant. After all the thoughts come and go, but you are always aware of them. It's like waves on the surface of the water, but underneath it may be very deep.
Just let your mind wander!. Stop forcing your mind to do anything. You don't have to think of "nothing." If you want to obsess, worry, or just go on in your mind about whatever, just let it happen. Don't force your mind in any particular direction. The other option is to try active daydreaming, which would be to visualize outcomes and goals you would like to see. Even if you do this with concentration your mind will still wander, so let it. I rarely clear my mind completely when meditating. Here's a secret: If you just let whatever come into your mind and listen to it, you might find it is your intuition talking to you. If you continue to listen (without judgment), you may be surprised at what comes up. The key is to not force anything.
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