Trying to control thought is like trying to lasso the wind. The harder you try, the more frustrated you become.
So, when thoughts blow around - you’re not doing something wrong. You can’t lasso the wind. Why waste your energy there. The realization of stillness doesn’t come through controlling your mind, your life, the world.
And thinking spiritual thoughts (whatever that means to you) doesn’t help either. Thoughts fighting thoughts - just intensifies the wind. The practice of meditation offers a different path. A way of relating to all patterns - including the control pattern - with loving awareness.
The same worries, regrets, hopes, fears, and desires arise again and again.
Notice, observe, and witness the thoughts. Don’t become lost in them and soon you’ll become aware of a pattern.
Practice meditation each day for a week and you’ll soon identify the patterns that your mind repeats. It may be the idea of opening a cheese shop or finding the perfect partner or … getting enlightened.
Notice your inhale and your exhale.
Relax your shoulders. Let go of the tensions in your body
Focus your attention in your heart area.
Soften your heart.
Let the energy of peace surround your heart.
Feel the kind, sweet and peaceful energy within you.
Surrender to it.
Be with your heart fully.
This post is in response to a 2 part question submitted to me by love-laugh-be-happy.
Unfortunately, the first portion of the question was deleted, so I will try my best to remember and reiterate what she asked.
It was my impression that she was not noticing any marked difference or benefit after meditation, despite the fact that she’d been consistent. Her routine was as follows:
I sit crossed legged in a quiet room and I used to say a mantra over in my head, but as though I was speaking it, then I switched to breathing deeply and just trying to, well sit, and observe my thoughts in a sort of abstract way, as in not to engage with them just acknowledge that they’re there.
It is a common complaint from meditators and yogis that they feel as though they ‘aren’t getting anything’ out of their practice. But what is this ‘anything’ we seek? Do we expect a profound sense of relaxation? Darkness? Blankness? Levitation? Magic? Inner peace?
These are all expectations that we create about our meditation. Maybe it serves as a way to give meaning or purpose to the seemingly meaningless act of sitting. A sort of ‘goal’ to work towards each time we sit, a goal that if we achieve it, we will reap some kind of reward.
But meditation isn’t about a reward or treasure in the end. This way of thinking has been engrained into our heads since the early days of capitalism (probably much earlier than this) and is very much reflective of the idea that if you work hard at something, you will get your just reward. This screams Protestant work ethic! Get a good job, make lots of money. Be a good person who follows the bible, go to heaven. Meditate twice daily with mantra, attain enlightenment.
This goal oriented, expectation laden way of thinking is not meditation. Expectations are a hinderance in meditation, and in life. They are a cause of suffering and frustration, as you can already see by love-laugh-be-happy’s question. We must become deeply aware of our expectations, and this in itself is meditation. Meditation is awareness - it isn’t “anything special”.
So, I have some suggestions for you, love-laugh-and-be-happy. Next time you meditate, do not expect anything. This may be a challenge, and may take 1 meditation or 1,000 meditations. Also in your daily life, start to become aware of the expectations you create in your mind - about yourself, about others. Learn to recognize these expectations and their origins - question how they came about in your mind.
Thank you for this question, as we all find ourselves revisiting this roadblock every once and a while.
All the best on your journey, and please let me know if you have any further questions.
PS. If you love and laugh, will you be happy? ;-)
The purpose of this article is to provide 20 practical recommendations to help beginners get past the initial hurdles and integrate meditation over the long term:
1) Make it a formal practice. You will only get to the next level in meditation by setting aside specific time (preferably two times a day) to be still.
2) Start with the breath. Breathing deep slows the heart rate, relaxes the muscles, focuses the mind and is an ideal way to begin practice.
3) Stretch first. Stretching loosens the muscles and tendons allowing you to sit (or lie) more comfortably. Additionally, stretching starts the process of “going inward” and brings added attention to the body.
4) Meditate with Purpose. Beginners must understand that meditation is an ACTIVE process. The art of focusing your attention to a single point is hard work, and you have to be purposefully engaged!
5) Notice frustration creep up on you. This is very common for beginners as we think “hey, what am I doing here” or “why can’t I just quiet my damn mind already”. When this happens, really focus in on your breath and let the frustrated feelings go.
6) Experiment. Although many of us think of effective meditation as a Yogi sitting cross-legged beneath a Bonzi tree, beginners should be more experimental and try different types of meditation. Try sitting, lying, eyes open, eyes closed, etc.
7) Feel your body parts. A great practice for beginning meditators is to take notice of the body when a meditative state starts to take hold. Once the mind quiets, put all your attention to the feet and then slowly move your way up the body (include your internal organs). This is very healthy and an indicator that you are on the right path.
8) Pick a specific room in your home to meditate. Make sure it is not the same room where you do work, exercise, or sleep. Place candles and other spiritual paraphernalia in the room to help you feel at ease.
9) Read a book (or two) on meditation. Preferably an instructional guide AND one that describes the benefits of deep meditative states. This will get you motivated. John Kabat-Zinn’sWherever You Go, There You Are is terrific for beginners.
10) Commit for the long haul. Meditation is a life-long practice, and you will benefit most by NOT examining the results of your daily practice. Just do the best you can every day, and then let it go!
11) Listen to instructional tapes and CDs.
12) Generate moments of awareness during the day. Finding your breath and “being present” while not in formal practice is a wonderful way to evolve your meditation habits.
13) Make sure you will not be disturbed. One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is not insuring peaceful practice conditions. If you have it in the back of your mind that the phone might ring, your kids might wake, or your coffee pot might whistle than you will not be able to attain a state of deep relaxation.
14) Notice small adjustments. For beginning meditators, the slightest physical movements can transform a meditative practice from one of frustration to one of renewal. These adjustments may be barely noticeable to an observer, but they can mean everything for your practice.
15) Use a candle. Meditating with eyes closed can be challenging for a beginner. Lighting a candle and using it as your point of focus allows you to strengthen your attention with a visual cue. This can be very powerful.
16) Do NOT Stress. This may be the most important tip for beginners, and the hardest to implement. No matter what happens during your meditation practice, do not stress about it. This includes being nervous before meditating and angry afterwards. Meditation is what it is, and just do the best you can at the time.
17) Do it together. Meditating with a partner or loved one can have many wonderful benefits, and can improve your practice. However, it is necessary to make sure that you set agreed-upon ground rules before you begin!
18) Meditate early in the morning. Without a doubt, early morning is an ideal
time to practice: it is quieter, your mind is not filled with the usual clutter, and there is less chance you will be disturbed. Make it a habit to get up half an hour earlier to meditate.
19) Be Grateful at the end. Once your practice is through, spend 2-3 minutes feeling appreciative of the opportunity to practice and your mind’s ability to focus.
20) Notice when your interest in meditation begins to wane. Meditation is
hard work, and you will inevitably come to a point where it seemingly does not fit into the picture anymore. THIS is when you need your practice the most and I recommend you go back to the book(s) or the CD’s you listened to and become re-invigorated with the practice. Chances are that losing the ability to focus on meditation is parallel with your inability to focus in other areas of your life!
Meditation is an absolutely wonderful practice, but can be very difficult in the beginning. Use the tips described in this article to get your practice to the next level!
Read full article here.
Sit comfortably on a chair or cushion. Legs crossed if it feels good.
Palms on your thighs.
Lightly close your eyes.
Feel the air going in and out your nostrils.
Imagine breathing in some peaceful and regenerating air and breathing out stress and worries. Do this for 5 breaths.
Then place your attention in the space between your breaths. After you breathe out, pause for 5 seconds before breathing in. Feel this space between the breaths. Let yourself hang out a while in the vastness between your breaths.
Do 10 breaths this way.
Stretch out a bit.
How do you feel?
hello! recently following your blog has really inspired me to try out meditation and/or yoga. do you have any book recommendations or advice as i try to get started? i can't fit a scheduled class into my life right now, so i'll have to explore it solo when i can until i can carve out enough space for it in my routine. also, any tips about safety if i plan to go to a park or somewhere by myself? thanks! :)
Asketh - doe-eyed-debtor
Glad that my blog inspired you making steps to nurture yourself and I’m sure bring some bliss into your life!
Both meditation and yoga complement well each others and I suggest you make space into your life for both of them. I’m myself a very busy person, but I wouldn’t miss my daily yoga and meditation. Once you practice and see for yourself the benefits, it’s worth waking up earlier and take a bit time before bed to practice both. Because when you meditate you are at a deeper state than sleep, it actually provides you some rest, making the less of a need for extra sleep or strong coffee to stay awake. Give it a try!
Here are some resources for meditation:
- The meditation bible: I really love this book because it gives simple directives to meditate and there are more than 100 types of meditations which gives you the opportunity to experiment and try the one that suits you best. Highly recommended.
- Meditation oasis: even for an experimented meditator, it is nice to listen to guided meditation every now and then. I love the free podcasts meditations of meditation oasis. Mary has a soothing voice and guides you peacefully in letting go, rest, gain awareness or destress. Try a few of them; it’s a great way to start meditating.
- A quick read and great introduction to mindfulness and meditation is Thich Nhat Han’s book The Miracle of Mindfulness. An inspired read.
Although I always recommend taking at least a few classes to get the alignment right in the poses, you can start a practice at home with a yoga mat. Be however careful in listening to the directives and to listen to your body not to hurt yourself.
- Tara Stiles workouts are a great way to start because they are easy to follow, her voice is soothing and relaxing. The workouts are short as well (5 to 10 minutes), so you have no excuses not to fit 5 minutes to do a bit of yoga and if you have more time you can do a couple of them. You can either find her workouts on youtube or her podcast on itunes.
- Yoga today has one weekly free yoga class which are usually great.
Once you have done a few yoga routines you get to learn poses and you can make up routine on your own (count five breaths on each pose). It gets fun.
I haven’t done yoga in parks. It’s enough to have a small place at home to put a mat and practice. If you wish to do it in a park I would just recommend going when there is still enough daylight and where it feels safe to you.
Let me know how it goes and if you enjoy it!
Happy yoga and meditating :)
Lie down or sit in a comfortable chair. Inhale, letting your abdomen expand, hold for a few seconds, and then exhale quickly through your mouth. Inhale again, holding the breath in your upper chest, and exhale through the mouth.
Now place one hand on your solar plexus and one on your heart. Breathe into the solar plexus, taking several slow breaths as you relax that area. Now breathe into and consciously relax the heart.
As you relax, witness your thoughts and emotions. Be present with whatever comes up, without judgment. If fear is present, make space for it. Let your fear freely arise, and allow it to release.
Become centered in the part of you that witnesses every aspect of life without being lost in it.
- From Yoga Journal October 2011 issue.