Meditation is an incredible tool to help you feel calmer, happier, and more grounded BUT maybe you haven’t given it a good go because you think it’s really hard or requires an epic amount of mental willpower? Or, like a lot of people, perhaps you are under the mistaken impression that you are supposed to stop your thoughts when you meditate. So you try it once or twice, and find that not only can you not stop your thoughts, but it seems like your mind is as crazy as a bunch of monkeys on speed!
Please let me reassure you, you don’t have to stop your thoughts! Meditation is actually really simple. There are thousands of meditation techniques out there (focusing on your breath, repeating a mantra in your mind, feeling the sensations in your body, gazing at a candle or a mandala). But basically there are just 2 steps to any meditation practice.
First, we focus on an object of concentration such as our breath or body sensations for example. Usually, quite quickly, the mind will get distracted by thoughts. All we have to do once we notice we are distracted, is calmly bring the mind back to the meditation object. We do this over and over again – that is why it is called meditation practice.
With practice, instead of squelching your thoughts, you begin to hone your ability to not to get LOST in your thoughts or passively dragged along by the stream of your mindand you start to tap into a different aspect of the mind: awareness.
The majority of our daily lives are spent being caught up in our THINKING MIND instead of our aware mind, and our thinking mind is at the root our worries, frustrations and stress. The nature of the thinking mind is to ruminate on problems and obsess over the future or the past. Dissatisfaction is at the heart of the thinking mind, as the present moment is never enough for it.
Conversely, the aware mind, is not bound to the past or the future, but the experience of here and now. This leads to surrender, satisfaction and peace because it seeks nothing, it simply experiences the moment as it is. Regular meditation practice develops your mind’s ability to slip into the state of awareness more easily, and gradually, this awareness starts to affect your everyday life in positive ways.
If you can commit to meditating every day, even just for 10 or 20 minutes you will see profound benefits. Your self-awareness will improve, helping you make better choices for yourself. You will be better able to cope with stress, anxiety, worry or depression. You will become kinder – to yourself and others. Your work or personal projects will benefit from your improved concentration and focus. Perhaps best of all, you will be able to enjoy the precious moments of your life, after all, it was John Lennon who said “Life is what happens to us while we are busy making other plans”.
Sharee James is a yoga and meditation instructor, a naturopath and founder of Ashima Living. To learn more about how to calm your mind, watch her quick video meditation for beginners or grab her free e-guide “Stress-Less” here:
Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khGS_GqFgIQ
Cheat sheet link: http://www.ashimaliving.com/freecheatsheet