When I tell people that I teach meditation, it amazes me how many people tell me that they have tried meditation, but they just can’t do it. Their minds are too busy. They seem to think you have to be a special sort of person to be able to meditate, someone who was born to naturally go into a deep trance 5 minutes after sitting cross-legged on a cushion.
I’ve never met anyone who comes even close to this. Why? Because it never happens.
The truth is that most people who are new to meditation completely misunderstand what meditation is.
The major problem seems to be that people think that when they meditate, they have to stop their thoughts and if they can’t stop their thoughts, then they can’t meditate.
But the truth is that the nature of the mind is to think. Even when we are asleep, the mind is still creating thoughts, which is what produces dreams.
If we try and stop our thoughts, we will fail. The more we try and not think, the more our body will tense up, resulting in more thoughts coming to our minds.
The art of meditation is not to try and stop your thoughts, but to observe them. Become the observer of your mind and notice what you are thinking about. Be aware of your thoughts, watch them appear from nowhere, observe them without holding on to them and let them go. Then sit and wait for the next thought to arrive. Let them pass gently across your mind like passing clouds in the sky.
By continually observing our thoughts and letting them pass us by produces a state of relaxation. Why? Because every single thought we have, no matter how big or small, causes a reaction in the body. But if we keep cutting off our thoughts by letting them go, the body will not have the chance to react and will become more and more relaxed.
As the mind and the body are very much interconnected, as the body relaxes, so does the mind, resulting in fewer thoughts and a deep sense of peace and relaxation.
So for those of you who are wondering how to start, then there is no time like the present! So…
Find somewhere comfortable to sit with your back straight. Close your eyes and focus on every muscle of your body relaxing, starting from your forehead all the way down to the toes.
- Take your attention to your breathing. Count each breath after the out-breath until you reach 10. Then go back to one and repeat.
- Every time the mind starts to drift off, notice your thoughts, let them go and bring your focus back to the breath.
- If you find it difficult to let go of the thought, then note if it is a thought from the past, the future or just a fantasy. If it is from the past, say in your mind “remembering”. If it is thought about the future, say “planning”, a fantasy, say “thinking” and then bring the thought back to the breath.
- Drop the counting and bring your awareness to any sensations in the body, the sounds around you or the colours and shapes forming on the inside of your eyelids. Just simply observe them, without thought, without judging and just simply “be”.