I hear it a lot. People tell me they tried and they can’t stop thinking. They get frustrated and quit.
I remember the first time I meditated. I was a student in a 200-hour yoga teacher training program. Our instructor walked in and said, “We’ll start with a 30 minute seated meditation today.”
Although I didn’t say anything verbally, my body language spoke volumes. My mouth dropped open and I furrowed my brow as if to say, “You want me to do what?”
I sat. I fidgeted. My legs started tingling. My back hurt. I couldn’t settle my thoughts. I felt angry and aggravated.
When we finished I silently promised myself I would NEVER meditate again. (Nice attitude from a soon-to-be yoga teacher!)
I don’t remember when I started again or why. I do remember that I started slowly – 5 minutes at a time. I could handle five minutes. On my own I increased the amount of time I sat by 2 – 3 minute increments until I made it to 20 minutes. – Today I can sit anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes “comfortably”.
Here is the thing about meditation: It’s a practice. You sit, free of distractions and focus your attention on a word, mantra, breath.
Your thoughts won’t stop. The practice is noticing your thoughts, detaching from them and bringing your attention back to that point of focus (word, mantra, breath).
Feeling frustrated? It’s part of the process. What else are you impatient or frustrated with in your life?
A few tidbits I’ve learned from meditation (certainly not a comprehensive list):
Silence is uncomfortable because it forces you to be with yourself. You start to feel things you haven’t felt in a while or ever. Let them come up if you want to heal and feel better.
Meditation keeps me focused. Meditation settles my thoughts (doesn’t stop them) when I feel overwhelmed or irritated and keeps me on track.
Sitting does get “easier”. Now I know if I fidget something is not right in my life. I need to let it come up and out.
Meditation keeps me in control. If I feel like I’m about to over react, I breathe. If I find myself reaching for food that I’m not hungry for I sit quietly for a few minutes. The “hunger” goes away because the “hunger” had nothing to do with food.
Compassion. Meditation has truly helped me open my heart and my mind to others.
The practice is not about stopping your thoughts but instead how quickly you notice your thoughts and stories, detach from them and bring your attention back to your breath/word/mantra. Also, how do you feel when you’re done?
Resource:Susan Piver meditation teacher and author recently wrote a posted called Am I Doing it Right? She offers a few thoughts to help keep you on track with your meditation practice.
Do you meditate? How has it helped you? Are you afraid of it? I’d love to know what you think.