Are you aware of how many thoughts are going through your mind this very moment? Are you aware of everything that happens in your brain throughout the day? Of all these subconscious thoughts bringing you in the past and in the future and back again?
The truth is that most of the time, our thought have more control over us than we have over them. Because we forget that we can make a conscious decision to quiet our mind.
Meditation quiets our mind, it doesn’t mute it.
This distinction is oh so important because one of the most frequent reasons I hear from people dropping meditation is that it doesn’t work for them. Well, let’s see.
Of course, if you start the practice with expectations, you most likely won’t see the natural change that happens when you explore stillness because you might give up too early. Meditation is a practice of patience and kindness toward your own inner journey. Trust me, there is so much beauty inside and so many benefits of meditation. Here are some key elements to start exploring this discipline.
Raise your awareness
This is one of the first exercises I suggest for anyone interested in starting meditation. Sit down on the floor, put a 3 minutes alarm on your phone and close your eyes. Don’t try to bring your attention to anything, just be. Literally, just sit with yourself and observe how much is going on in your head. Because know that it might be overwhelming. In between your tasks of the day, your judgement about the moment, your ideas and most likely impatience towards it. This might seem like such a long three minute and you might even doubt your alarm and gaze at your phone 90 seconds in.
Practice patience and detachment.
Do this exercise every day for a week and just get familiar with these thoughts and the waves of your mind. Sit straight with no other reason than being with yourself for few minutes. We’ll take it from there.
Meditation helps to reduce the flow of thoughts, not to mute your mind
This is a good place to get started and surely the most important point of all. You need to let it sink in. The practice of meditation doesn’t mean that one should completely stop thinking for a designated amount of time. Meditation is all about learning and practicing to be more aware of the present moment with a non-judgmental attitude.
To do so, and after you’ve practice sitting with no purpose for a while, I suggest trying to focus on a specific element. Focus on a sound, on your own breathing or on a chosen sentence to start with. By targeting a specific element of focus instead of letting your mind run wild, you will instantly reduce the number of thoughts coming freely, take control of them and have a more clear mind. You can train this ability to focus and bring attention to one single element at a time and eventually, you will find your mind being quieter in its neutral state too, even outside of meditation. We will explore some of these techniques in a future article.
Meditation has many forms
Start exploring and playing with meditation in different situations. I once met a girl at a yoga festival who told me that she was always meditating. I internally laughed as I thought that didn’t make any sense. At that point I still never had truly practiced meditation and still couldn’t fully understand how I was supposed to stay still with a quiet mind for so long.
That is because I had so many misconceptions about it. Meditation is also the simple practice of having a deep awareness of what surrounds us. It is choosing to be fully here and now and not driven by external or internal distraction. Choosing to purposely meditate and focus on one’s breathing instead of distracting yourself with your phone in between main activities will really change your general awareness, reduce your stress level and bring more joy! Choose what makes sense for you as you discover meditation. Meditation can be taking 3 minutes in silence to repeat a mantra, trying to focus on the river sound while you are sitting, taking 20 minutes, eyes closed, to let your thoughts come and flow as you practice detachment, bringing your focus on your breathing as you wait in line and more.
It can basically be anything that implies a conscious effort to reduce the flow of thoughts. Therefore, anyone can practice meditation at any time, even you! Slowly get started with these tips this week and get ready to go deeper into these techniques in the next few articles.