Saying ‘I can’t mediate because my mind is too busy’ is like saying I can’t mow the lawn because the grass is too high or I can’t wash the car because it is too dirty. People get frustrated when they try meditating and are unable to sit in stillness without thinking.
That’s actually normal. If you can sit in meditation without any thoughts you are either a guru or you may have died. You are not trying to establish a mental vacuum. In fact, meditation is a deeper exploration of your conditions in the present moment.
It’s kind of like going to the gym. There is a vast array of options and technology to choose from. In meditation, you set your ‘routine’ based on your current conditions and the mental muscle you want to exercise. If you want to relax there are techniques for that. If you want to explore a specific question or source of anxiety there are techniques for that.
The three techniques below are great ways to establish or augment a meditation practice.
Breath counting. This is a fundamental practice. Find a quiet place, sit still, close your eyes and bring your awareness to the breath. You can stay with your breath or add counting on each exhale 1,2,3,4,5 … If you lose focus, acknowledge the thought, bring your awareness back to the breath and start over. There is no prize for a higher number. This is about focus and being present.
Thought labelling. It may also be helpful to pay attention to where your thoughts wander, attach a label to each thought and then let them go. For example, if your mind wanders and think of your to-do list, you can label the thought as “planning” and then picture the labelled thought drifting away like a cloud. Over time you will notice themes of distraction.
Meditating to music. Listening to music is a powerful source of meditation and helps people stay focused. A recording of Tibetan singing bowls or a tambourah works really well. When I lead the Friday morning practice at Mobify we meditate to “Wednesday Morning” by Macklemore and “Light of My Soul” by Ajeet Kaur. Meditate for inspiration by feeling your way into the sounds and finding something that you can use to set an intention for your practice or your day.
These techniques will cultivate stillness and help you get in touch with yourself. There are endless possibilities and nothing to strive for. The key is to relax and just get started.
Perhaps you can try sitting with your breath for 10 minutes a day for the 30 days. You will be amazed at the benefits of a daily practice.
(Originally posted at ChiefYogaOfficer.com)