Meditation can be a daunting idea. For most of us our minds are running full speed and we can even have difficulty turning them off to sleep. This is the most common complaint heard by physicians about insomnia….”I just couldn’t turn my mind off.”
We hear that meditation will calm us and release endorphins. We can listen to meditation tapes and find ourselves wandering from the voice’s instructions. Turning our minds off is a difficult task.
Our minds have been running like this for years. What makes us think that turning off the thoughts can be just a matter of sitting down and expecting it to happen. Just like anything else in life it is a skill that we have to learn. To learn it we have to practise*. I have friends who run marathons and they have to be consistent in their training. They can’t just go out and run without work.
The same thing is true of meditation. We have to retrain our mind. You can’t learn to shut thoughts off like snapping your fingers. It takes time, work and consistency.
When we start to learn this new skill we must have patience with ourselves. We try it and we can’t stop the mind and we think it is hogwash and a failure. It isn’t any more than trying to run a marathon by just deciding…”today I am going to run 26 miles.”
In the beginning the only thing that we may accomplish is just taking time to sit or lie quietly. This is not a bad thing in itself. It helps to just stop for a while. Paying attention to your breath and checking your body for tension is always good. The next step is to recognize the thoughts that are running through your mind. My first (and very best) yoga instructor told us to see that thought and mentally watch it slide across your mind and on out. Continue to do this with each thought that occurs. With practise* you will notice less thoughts intruding and by watching them go by you are not allowing them to really intrude.
Learn to take time for meditation. My yoga instructor said that when we are awake we are like a car in forward gear. When we are asleep we are in reverse. When we are in meditation we are in neutral. A good analogy.
Meditation is wonderful…learning it is a task worth putting time into.
*word press wants me to change practise to practice. Practise is the verb. Practice is a noun.