Today, we are going to look at how we deal with the busy mind or emotions that can arise during meditation.
I have always really appreciated the following quote by Dean Ornish M.D Physician and director of Preventative Medicine Research Institute.
“Meditation is simple in concept but difficult to master. Fortunately, you don’t have to master meditation to benefit from it. You just have to practice it. No one ever really masters it completely, but even a few steps down that road can make a meaningful difference. It is the process of meditation that makes it so beneficial, not how well you perform.”
I really feel that this is true. We seem to be under the impression that successful meditation equals a totally blank mind. Actually, this is just wishful thinking. I mean, we would all love for our minds to give it a rest and just be quiet sometimes BUT this is not that realistic. The mind is designed to think! It is how we respond to the thoughts that makes the world of difference and eventually, over time you may just find that not so many thoughts form.
Often people speak of their busy mind with frustration and irritation but actually I have found that the mind responds better to patience, compassion and acceptance. The mind can be stubborn. The more you tell it to be quiet, the noisier it gets!
Sometimes it can be helpful to give it opportunity to say what it’s got to say before you start to meditate.
A great idea that I heard once, was to sit down with a paper and pen and tell the mind it has got 5 minutes to say what it needs to and then it must rest. Set a timer for 5 minutes and write down everything that pops into your head. Whatever the mind throws at you. Nonsense, random stuff, shopping lists, whatever. Let it run free and have fun. Then when the timer stops, put the pen down and then settle into your meditation practice.
If thoughts come in and out, just remember that it is totally normal. You are not meditating incorrectly. Just notice the thought or distraction and maybe imagine it drifting back out as you exhale. Even if for a while it feels like you are just exhaling out thoughts, so what? You are human and we think! Just lovingly accept that. Turn the compassion that you extend to friends when they are being hard on themselves back to yourself. Take the pressure off. It really does make such a difference. Meditation isn’t meant to be torture.
Having a guided meditation or app to listen to can be helpful in the beginning if you are really struggling as the voice guiding you can help you maintain focus but eventually it is more ideal to be able to meditate without the need of a guide.
Personally, I have found mantra meditation the most effective point of focus in a meditation practice, but everyone is different.
If you would like me to post about different types of meditation (please comment in the comments section).
Enjoying a regular, slightly distracted meditation is better than never doing it at all.
With regards to challenging emotions or feelings that may arise, this can be common too. Especially if we have difficulty expressing our feelings, have been going through an extremely stressful time or just not had space or time to rest and be with whatever is going on. Sometimes just sitting with a difficult emotion and just letting it have time to come and release (maybe with a good cry) is no bad thing.
However, if it is on-going and you feel that you may be in need of additional support, don’t be afraid to ask for it.
A trouble shared is a trouble halved.
For people suffering with severe anxiety or depression, I would recommend meditation only with an experienced facilitator alongside therapy or counselling. Practicing meditation without the support you need in these cases can actually be detrimental. If the meditation brings up memories that you have suppressed in the past, that can lead to a deluge of negative feelings which may be too hard for some one already suffering from severe anxiety or depression to handle.
So please be gentle and kind to yourselves.
I would love to hear from you if this post has been helpful or if you have any questions or tips to share.
Remember you can also come and try meditation in the many group sessions with me as well as individually.
Wishing you peace always