Focusing on Meditation

When people think of meditation, they perhaps think of an older person sitting cross-legged, eyes closed, with a look of complete and utter peace upon their face.

However, whenever I sit to meditate, my mind is usually rushing a million different places. I’ll often look down at my timer and see how much time I have left. Sometimes, I feel very pleased with myself because “Heck yeah! I made it half-way without even looking” or disappointed, “Ah! It’s only been two minutes?! This is going to take forever!” Both of these feelings distract from the purpose of my meditation which is to slow my mind down and become one with myself. I think part of my problem is that, as is common in today’s fast-paced society-I’m looking for instant gratification. Being able to see how long I have left on my timer gives me that satisfaction or adrenaline that I’m used to.

But I think my largest problem is that instead of letting my ideas flow, I try to push them down. Whenever you’re meditating, thoughts will come to your mind, especially if you’re new at it. You don’t just clear your mind and suddenly you’re meditating. It’s a process of slowing your mind down, not just stopping it all together. If you’re driving a car and you need to come to a stop, you could either slam the brakes or slowly decelerate while pressing the brakes. Both things work, but the latter is much easier on your tires and much more effective. Pushing my thoughts down is like trying to shove too many clothes into a suitcase. I may be able to close it with a lot of unnecessary effort, but when I try to open it, my clothes will burst out. They’ll also be wrinkly.

When I used to teach a meditation class, I would start my class by having my students do a few simple yoga stretches. This was partly to get any wiggles out and stretch any stiff joints that might be bothered by sitting for an extended period of time, but it was mostly to start getting them into a routine for meditation. I find that having a routine for meditation important because it trains your brain and your body to understand what is coming next so that it can prepare itself for it.

Next, I would lead my students through about two or three breathing exercises. Again, part of the routine, but to get them focused on their breath. This is an easy thing to focus on because it is something that can be easily refocused upon if your mind starts to wander. Focusing on breathing can also bring much more calm into the body. Breathing deeply oxygenates the blood and relieves stress. I’ll probably do a post all about breathing and it’s benefits when it comes to anxiety, depression, and other things.

Lastly, I would start the meditation. I usually did a guided meditation, which means that I would speak at certain intervals and would guide my students to a certain goal. Perhaps it would be a meditation about confidence, or self-love, or love for others. I would also remind them that if any thoughts came to their mind or if their mind started to wander, that it was okay. Perhaps that thought is there for a reason. When meditating and thoughts come to your mind, you acknowledge them, allow them to float on, and then refocus. Even during a ten-minute meditation, your mind will wander dozens of times and that okay. Don’t be angry at yourself, just say hello, then allow it to move on.

There are several ways to meditate and I’m planning on doing separate posts dedicated to each kind, so try to find the way that is right for you. Even taking 10 minutes per day can help lift a mood or feel a little more peaceful. Hopefully, you feel more confident in your ability to meditate. I’ll have another post up soon!

Have a wonderful day!


(Originally published on 08/17/2016)


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