Wanting to Meditate? A few variations on paying attention in daily life. . .

IMG_3394People often ask me how they can start to meditate.  More frequently, they tell me that meditation is not for them, that they can’t stop their thoughts.

Let me stress:  A rampantly active mind is not unusual!  It’s the norm!  Gaining some control or understanding of it is the underlying motivation behind all meditation!  The human condition is such that we find ourselves lost in space and time, going through the motions and not really living life as fully or consciously as we would like. Meditation starts to undo that.

This propensity to believe that any one person could be better than another at meditation is widespread.

I recently saw a “meme” post on Facebook that caused me to giggle:  saying you can’t meditate because your mind is too busy is like saying you can’t shower or bathe because you’re too dirty!  Ha!Ha!  It’s so true!

It takes time, but every bit of effort advances you on the path of being a great meditator.

My interest in meditation has led me to sit for long periods in silence without reading, writing, or eye contact.  I also have trained fairly extensively in a number of different methodologies.  I can promise you that the mind is a “loose cannon,” and even once attention has become quite concentrated after several days of continual and skillful practice, the mind continues to have a mind of its own.  But over time, you develop the tools to increasingly be able to choose the thoughts on which to focus.  The mind becomes more of a servant instead of a master.

The insights gained by humbly, patiently and diligently working at meditation are so imminently worthwhile!

The benefits are many . . .

I will leave to another post a listing of the plethora of both anecdotal as well as scientifically-supported benefits of meditation. Suffice it to say that people wouldn’t consider meditating if they didn’t think it was desirable in some way.

Why you should let go of expectations

To a certain extent, the type or path of meditation training and practice people should undertake depends on their reason for taking up meditation in the first place. But initially the motivation may not be entirely clear.  Meditation can be undertaken without a definite intention and over time its purpose will come into focus and then later even morph into something else.  In fact, it is best that people soften their expectations because meditation’s effects often surface in a fruitful, although different, manner than anticipated.

Ways to bring meditation into your daily life:

  1. A very simple way to start meditating amidst your busy day is to use a technique coined “The Mindful Check-In” by the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) school.  This brief, three-minute strategy involves feeling into the body and mind and noting whatever sensations, thought, or emotions happen to be there, without any analysis or judgement.  The practice starts with an acknowledgement of the virtue of taking the time, and ends with the same type of acknowledgement.  See PsychCentral’s explanation of the Three-Minute Check-In or watch video by Elisha Goldstein [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1EZ_hpnhDM[/youtube]
  2. STOP is a related practice.  A participant in one of the MBSR trainings conceived of this even simpler version of an in-the-moment meditation and it has become very popular since.  STOP is an acronym for Stop, Take a Breath, Observe, and Proceed.  Here’s a concise explanation of how to perform a STOP meditation.
  3. Similarly, Amy Weintraub, in her body of yoga work for mood management called LifeForce® Yoga, tells you to ask yourself, “Where am I?”  At other times while feeling the feet, the crown of the head, and the movement of breath, she encourages you to say to yourself, “I am” . .. “Here.”  I am trained in using this methodology and would love to share more of it with you.  Feel free to contact me.  To see more about LifeForce Yoga, go to Amy’s website.
  4. One of my yoga students recently gifted me with a book entitled Just Listen by Nancy O’Hara. In the first chapter, “Situating Yourself,” she outlines the “purpose tool.” When you use the purpose tool, you are to be present and willing, right here, right now.  You observe your surroundings, what you are wearing, your position, your breath; you focus on being right where you are.

Attitude is paramount

Key to performing any or all of these practices lies in the attitudes you bring with you.  Drop judgement and striving, be patient, trust in the process, accept your current experience, be curious (as if you are a complete beginner), and let be (none of what you notice needs to be gotten rid of or held onto).

Simple but not easy

Although simple, these are proven and time-tested techniques.  Simple does not necessarily mean easy.  I would love to accompany you on your meditation journey if you need some feedback or guidance.  Click here to go to the Contact Page to get in touch with me.

Permanent link to this article: https://yoginsight.com/wanting-to-meditate-a-few-variations-on-paying-attention-in-daily-life/