Are you aware of how many thoughts are going through your mind this very moment? Are you aware of everything that happens in your mind throughout the day? These subconscious thoughts that bring you to the past, future and back again?
The truth is that, so often, our thoughts have more control over us than we have over them. 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 clients who drop meditation is that it doesn’t work for them. Well, let’s see…
Starting a meditation practice with expectations will most likely stunt your ability to experience the natural shifts that happens when you explore stillness because you might give up too early on. Meditation is a practice of patience and kindness toward your own inner journey and thoughts. Trust me: there is so much beauty inside and so many benefits to a regular meditation practice.
Here are some key elements to start exploring this discipline.
Raise your awareness
This is one of the first exercises I suggest to clients interested in starting meditation: Sit down on the floor,set your phone alarm for 3 minutes 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. That might be overwhelming. Between your tasks of the day, your judgement about the moment, your ideas and most likely impatience towards it, this might seem like a long three minutes. 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. Just get familiar with these thoughts and the ebbs and flow of your own mind. Sit with no other reason than being with yourself for few minutes. How does that feel?
Meditation helps slow the flow of thoughts, not mute your mind.
This is a good place to get started and one of my most important tip. Really let it sink in. The practice of meditation doesn’t mean that you should completely stop thinking for a designated amount of time. Meditation is all about learning the and practice more awareness 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 on, instead of letting your mind run wild, you will 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 bringing attention to one single element at a time. Eventually, you’ll find your mind being quieter in its neutral state too, even when you’re not meditating.
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. I could not imagine that! At that point, I had never really practiced meditation and didn’t fully understand how I was supposed to stay still with a quiet mind for so long!
That’s because I had so many misconceptions about it. Meditation is just the simple practice of having a deep awareness of what’s within us in the present moment. It is choosing to be fully here and now and not driven by external or internal distractions. Choosing to purposely meditate and focus on one’s breathing instead of distracting yourself with your phone when you have a few spare minutes can really change your mindfulness, reduce stress level and invite in 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’re sitting having a coffee, taking 20 minutes to close your eyes and let your thoughts flow as you practice detachment or bringing your focus to your breath as you wait in line.
It can basically be anything that implies a conscious effort to slow and soften the flow of thoughts. Anyone can practice meditation at any time, even you!
Slowly get started with these practices and notice how that feels.