Updated: Mar 30, 2021
I have heard this a lot from friends and people in general. ¨I can´t meditate. I should, but...¨ The first step to aid in this process is to stop placing expectations on what meditation IS. Your mind does not have to be completely blank. You don´t have to sit quietly in a serene space. You don´t have to meditate for 20 minutes or more (although that can be really quite enlightening). You simply sit with your thoughts for a moment. How many of those tabs do you have open? And what story are those thoughts telling you? It´s really just about noticing what´s passing through your head at present and trying not to judge those thoughts too harshly. You are human, take it easy on yourself. Just notice.
Also, keep in mind that it takes practice. Like all the things you want to improve on in life. Keep showing up. Take one or two minutes each day to pause what you´re doing and practice being with whatever comes up. What?! Pause DO-ing? I know, like I said, practice!
On the flip side of that coin, you may experience a meditative state while doing something. Yogis call it ¨yoga high¨, runners experience the ¨runners high¨. Maybe you´ve noticed when you´re totally absorbed in drawing, painting, cooking, or gardening, there´s more space between thoughts. That gap, however big or small, is so beneficial to your well being!
When I start to think or say out loud, ¨I need a vacation!¨, that´s my cue that it´s time to meditate. And oftentimes, a few deep breaths with my eyes closed, helps me see...Alright that thought is taking up space right now, what action can I take to move forward? Sometimes I know what to do (usually hydrate, eat, rest, communicate, or move), other times (insert shoulder shrug). And that´s okay too, because then you become aware of whether it´s your past, present, or future holding you back or triggering a feeling, that recognition, is a HUGE awakening on its own. Give yourself credit for checking in on yourself. And if a thought truly troubles you, do speak to a mental health professional. It´s their life´s work to be of service to you. They´ve got incredible tools to share with you!
Finally, try different methods of meditation. There are tons of meditation apps! Insight Timer is one of my favorites for guided meditations and music. Incredible teachers on there are Davidji, Sarah Blondin, Sonic Yogi, Thich Nhat Hanh, just to name a few. Add me as your friend on there and we may find we´re meditating at the same time. Which brings me to the next suggestion, join a meditation group. There really is a special bond formed when meditating with a group of people. Our local studio offers one Monday evenings, sometimes with singing bowls and drumming. It´s a warming sense of community.
Eckhart Tolle writes, ¨One conscious breathe in and out is a meditation.¨ One breathe.☝🏼 We take quite a few of those each day unconsciously, try being present with one. Breathing in, I am aware of my in breath, breathing out, I am aware of my out breath. There you go, that´s your foundation. Build from there and return to it as needed.
I hope this helps you consider flipping that script from, ¨I can´t meditate¨ to ¨I practice meditating¨. What have you got to lose? Stess, anxiety, memory loss, high blood pressure. And gain? Control pain, improved sleep, build kindness, lengthen attention span, help fight addiction, improve emotional health and self-awareness. Just make it a practice, not perfection. Over time, the gap between thoughts will lengthen and provide peace of mind, if only for a moment.