Our minds are very critical – constantly assessing everything we see, feel and experience. And it can wear us out.
One of the many reasons people are drawn to meditation is to give their heads a break. Because there is a myth out there that goes like this: “Meditation is chill-out time, where I’ll get to switch my mind off from the relentless train of thoughts and I’ll have some peace for a while.”
This is a common perception held by people before they try meditation. Usually, this perception is not matched by the experience. The mind refuses to be still. Thoughts continue to churn.
And we make a judgement—either, “I’m not doing this properly”, or “This isn’t working for me.”
This judgement is the biggest obstacle—after just sitting and doing it—to keeping a meditation practice going.
When seeking to develop a meditation practice, the number one thing we need to do is stop judging our busy minds. Just notice it. And accept it.
Thoughts are actually part of the process of meditation. There are moments of stillness, during which time our bodies and mind receive some healing and we connect with our higher, most loving and most knowing aspects of our Selves. In fact, there will be lots of those moments which will gradually accrue benefits on the mental, physical and emotional levels.
But we cannot be aware of the stillness.
To be aware is to be thinking. Noticing. Observing.
We may notice that things seemed very still a moment ago and that was nice. And just noticing that will spawn another thought, which will spawn another. And then we notice that our minds are caught up in a string of thoughts once again and we choose to let that go—to bring our attention back to our focal point, such as our breath.
That is the process of meditation and it involves thoughts. Noticing them and letting them go. Getting caught up in them, noticing them and letting them go again—ad nauseum.
Sometimes it will feel relaxing and sometimes it will feel tedious. If something is bothering us, it will probably be very present during the meditation.
But we meditate for the benefits we experience in our lives, not for the experience we have during the sit. And, given time, most people notice significant benefits.
And in the immediate aftermath, many often notice that whatever was bothering them during the meditation isn’t on their mind quite so much in the hours that follow.
So, whether it’s tedious or relaxing, it’s worth sticking with and making it a daily practice. Do it, but do not judge it. Just keep on doing it until the time is up.
And do it again tomorrow.
Image via Flickr