Learning to meditate more effectively when you can’t calm all those thoughts constantly running through your mind. This is what is known in the east as the “monkey mind”, believe me, you are not alone with this problem. Let’s look at some ways to help with this very common problem.
“I can’t meditate! My mind won’t stop, my thoughts are racing – it makes me want to give up!”
Learning to meditate can feel like a thought-wrestling rodeo. But you’re not alone – intrusive thoughts are normal, even for experienced meditators.
I laughed out loud when I first encountered that truth. I was reading The Cloud of Unknowing, a classic meditation book from the 13th century because I was pretty sure I “wasn’t doing it right.” And I discovered that the writer – a venerable monk (or nun? It’s anonymous, after all!) who spent hours each day in meditation, over years of practice – was dealing with intrusive thoughts.
What a relief! It’s the same today. Father Thomas Keating, the Trappist monk who developed Centering Prayer, recognizes intrusive thoughts as a normal part of quieting our minds and hearts. He says “acknowledge the thoughts; then smile, and refocus”.
But how do you “refocus”? What exactly can you do when your mind is full of ideas and plans, thoughts, or worries, and they just won’t quit?
5 Ways For Learning To Meditate and Move Into A Deeper Meditation Experience
1. Get ready.
The first part of learning to meditate effectively is preparation. Spend 20 minutes writing your thoughts and worries before you start to meditate. Just get them down on paper – no fancy writing, no looking for answers, and no censorship from “what I should think”.
Write down thoughts as they come, no matter how irrational and crazy they may sound. In fact, the crazy ones are especially helpful! And then – wad it up and throw it away! Your right brain has released the thoughts, so they don’t need to circle any longer.
Your left brain has processed the words, giving you some distance and a different perspective. Your brain knows what’s important, and will deal with it. The rest is irrelevant. Trash it. Now your mind is ready to meditate.
2. Get friendly.
Even when you have prepared, and you are happy on your path of learning to meditate, thoughts will come. No worries – no fighting them off. When we fight with our intrusive thoughts, we end up focused on the very stuff we’re fighting. Welcome them, let them move on by, and notice what comes up next.
And smile. Remind yourself you are normal. Thoughts happen with meditation. It means you’re doing what you need to be doing. Good work!
3. Get intentional.
Notice your breathing at all times when learning to meditate. Become aware of where it happens, how it feels. Move into it. Be intentional with your breathing. Do 2 or 3 rounds of 4 x 4 breaths. Breathe in for 4 counts. Hold for 4 counts. Release for 4 counts. Rest for 4 counts. Notice how it feels. Then try a couple of rounds of 4-7-8 breathing. (link to 4-7-8 article) Breathe in for 4, hold for 7, release for 8. (Just don’t do too many of those, or you may find you’ve fallen asleep!) And just be.
4. Get spiritual.
Want to open your mind when learning to meditate into a more spiritual experience? You can lift up and release each thought to the mind of God, and deepen your meditation. As you notice a frustrating, frightening, or distracting thought, lift it up. And as you do, offer your thought and yourself into a larger truth.
“I lift up my thought to your truth.”
“I open my mind to your wisdom.”
“I release my heart to your love.”
See how it unfolds. Learning to meditate effectively can take you deeper than you’ve ever been before.
5. Get support.
Guided imagery when you are first learning to meditate effectively lets you relax into meditation with someone who will show you the way. As you learn to meditate, or any time your peace is disturbed, guided imagery helps to focus your thoughts and deepen your meditation. Try it. The experience may surprise you. And it will be different every time.
More and more, as you begin to refocus, you’ll see intrusive thoughts as a natural part of your meditation journey. And you will move deeper into the home in your heart.
Learning To Meditate Effectively Tip: Meditating With a Chattering Head
It’s the first day of learning to meditate in class. The group is sitting in a circle, and people shuffle and twist in their seats as we prepare to turn out the lights. Finally, one person shares his fears. “What if I won’t be able to do this-what if I can’t make my thoughts stop?” Others look relieved that they’re not the only ones. “I can’t calm my mind–I’m just too distracted!”
My students are not alone when learning to meditate. Even the anonymous monk who wrote The Cloud of Unknowing, a 14th century classic on meditation, talks about dealing with intrusive thoughts. The monk (or maybe it was really a nun… I’ve always wondered…) was a meditation expert. He (or she) meditated every day, all day long. Even so, intrusive thoughts still happened.
Mind chatter. It just is. Our minds buzz and flit, even when we don’t want them to. It’s how we’re made.
But even though you know it will happen, even in the beginning of learning to meditate, you can still learn to calm your mind. You can learn some steps to help your thoughts quiet. Sure, there will be times when your mind is full of busyness. But it can get better. For a few moments, more and more each time you meditate, you can find a place to rest. You can find this in your own space. In your own peace.
Your body knows how. You just need to set it free.
Always begin by noticing your breathing when learning to meditate. When thoughts come, breathe into the muscles in your face. Let your breath gather up the tension, and then release. Notice how your breath feels in your sinuses. Let your breath move all the way up your nose and through your mind… gathering up thoughts and releasing them. And then begin to notice your body.
Notice where you feel the warmth… and where you feel cool. Notice where you feel relaxed… and where any muscles feel tense. Breathe through the tense muscles, gathering up tension and releasing it… and notice how it feels now.
And now, just notice your thoughts going by… like leaves moving down a stream. Notice them from the grassy bank, where you are resting. Notice them moving past overhead, like the clouds moving by… some of them stormy… some soft and small… and notice any blue patches in between.
And begin to pay attention to the clear spaces too… They’re there. Small at first, and then longer-and you forget to notice them, and your thoughts drift, and you watch them go by… And now, you’re meditating.
This is one way, one path to quieting your thoughts. We’ll look at others, in other articles. But this path, of breathing, and releasing, noticing, and noticing again-this will be useful to you all throughout your learning to meditate effectively.
Even when you’re as experienced as that anonymous monk! (Or nun…I really do wonder…)
16 Hands-on Tips For Learning To Meditate For Beginners
Learning to meditate, particularly mindfulness meditation has become extremely popular over the last few years. While meditation can be very simple, there are several common mistakes and misconceptions about meditation that you’ll want to avoid if you’re new to the practice.
Getting started on the right foot increases the odds of maintaining your meditation practice and getting the most benefits from it.
Use these tips for learning to meditate to avoid meditation pitfalls:
1. Sit up straight. Slouching may be comfortable for a couple of minutes, but it takes more strength than you think to support poor posture. Sit up straight and let your skeleton support your weight.
2. Start slowly. Just a couple of minutes is enough to start. There are two good reasons for this. It’s easier to be compliant when you only have to sit for three minutes at a time. It’s also challenging to meditate for an extended period of time if you’re not experienced.
3. Meditate multiple times each day. By sitting for just a couple of minutes, you should have time to sit for multiple sessions. You might want to try meditating for a few minutes each hour.
4. It’s all about the breath. Your breath connects you to the moment and helps to keep your mind focused. The breath isn’t something to be focused on intensely, rather it acts as an anchor to maintain awareness of the present.
5. Count if necessary. If you’re struggling to maintain awareness of your breath, count your breaths. Count each inhalation until you’ve reached five and then start over.
6. Keep your eyes opened slightly. It’s easier for your mind to wander from the present if your eyes are closed. Keep your gaze lowered and soft.
7. Acknowledge thoughts but avoid dwelling on them. All thoughts should be treated the same. They’re just phenomena passing through. Let them go and return your attention to the breath.
8. Be patient. It seems like it should be easy to concentrate for a few minutes, but the mind likes to stay busy. It’s a challenging habit to break. Be patient.
9. Sit comfortably. It’s not necessary to sit with your legs folded up like a pretzel. Any position that can be held comfortably for the planned time is good enough.
10. Use a timer. Without a timer, you’ll find yourself worrying about the time and continue to peek at the clock. Set a reliable timer and you won’t be as preoccupied with the time.
11. Increase your meditation time by 5 minutes each week. Avoid the temptation to progress too quickly. Ideally, you’ll look forward to your meditation sessions. Progressing too quickly causes restlessness and agitation.
12. Consider getting expert assistance. There are many free opportunities to meditate with others. Look for local meetups or contact your local Buddhist temple. With so many people meditating, you’re bound to find an expert willing to help.
13. Take every opportunity to meditate. Meditating at home under perfect conditions is great practice, but the ultimate goal is to have the ability to meditate anywhere. A skilled meditator can meditate on a 99-degree packed, loud, smelly, subway.
14. Be persistent. If you’re meditating each day with the full intention of improving, you’ll eventually become a skilled meditator.
15. Stretch first. Your meditation position should be comfortable and easy. If your position feels like a stretch, you won’t be comfortable. Stretch first.
16. There’s no reason to be concerned about your hands. Just place your hands comfortably on your lap. Allowing your hands to be lower can eventually pull down on the shoulders and become uncomfortable.
Meditation can bring you both mental and physical benefits. Use these tips when learning to meditate and you’ll quickly become skillful at a practice you can enjoy for the rest of your life.
Deborah Kukal, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist with a broad sense of her home in the world. She is Board Certified in Health Psychology, and she writes on health, sleep issues, spirituality, and meditation, as well as life enrichment, travel, and current events.
The home in your heart. Where mind and body touch one another.
Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/Deborah_Kukal,_Ph.D./13179