I want to talk about meditation because I feel like a lot of people are turned off by the idea that they have to be able to switch off their thoughts completely, otherwise there’s no point doing it.
We live in a busy, hectic world, where we never not bombarded with information, noise, and we are always thinking, thinking, thinking. It has never been more challenging for us to ‘switch off’ – literally and figuratively speaking!
I gave up on meditation years ago because I would get so frustrated with myself because I couldn’t stop my thoughts coming for even a few seconds. I figured what’s the point, when it’s only making me feel more stressed.
Then I found an app that was just called Breathe(I’m not sure if it exists anymore). It had a recording that was only maybe 5 minutes long, and it was just ‘inhale….exhale…pause between breaths…inhale….exhale…’ and so on. And every now and then “focus on your breath, bring your attention back to your breath”. After listening to it several times, I actually found it was helping me to relax.
Aha! I had conquered meditation!
I still haven’t reached the point where I am free of thoughts when I meditate, but it doesn’t frustrate me anymore. I acknowledge the thought, visualise filing it away for later, and I bring my attention back to my breath.
If thoughts pop up when you meditate, it doesn’t mean that you’re doing it wrong, and it doesn’t mean you’re wasting your time. There is no one way to meditate. Meditation describes a variety of techniques, and can be as simple as “focus on your breath.”
The purpose of meditation is greater awareness of your mind and body, and to observe your thoughts, feelings, pain & other sensations without judgement. Note: no mention of being without thought!
The list of health benefits from meditation is a long one: lower blood pressure, less anxiety, better sleep, less fatigue, fewer headaches, sense of calm, greater focus & concentration, stronger immunity….and more.
As with any new technique, it takes practice & patience to feel comfortable meditating, and to reap the health benefits fully.
Headspace has loads of information about meditation and some free guided meditations to get you started.
Find a meditation technique that feels comfortable for you, and start with a minute a day.
Pretty soon, you may find you actually look forward to your daily meditation practice.