3 simple things to remember to reach deep states of meditation

“I can’t meditate, I have too many thoughts and emotions to be able to still my mind. “

“Meditation is frustrating.”ascension

“I have tried meditating but it gave me a panic attack.”

When I suggest meditation as a part of a program to wellness and mental health, I am quite often faced with replies such as these. The very thought of sitting with all of the thoughts that race around the screen of your mind is just too much for people to bear. So how do we move beyond this? How is it possible to get into the deeper states of meditation when all you get is tsunamis of thoughts washing away any hope of basking peacefully in the light of enlightenment?

The following are key points to remember when beginning the daunting journey into your self:

  1. Tsunami to storm – calming the seas of thought. Do not try and stop thoughts from arising. Minds think thoughts, that’s what they do, about 50,000 per day apparently (although who on earth sat all day and counted them?). If you put up resistance to thinking you will just end up thinking very frustrated thoughts. What we can do is to notice the thoughts and redirect the thoughts. Gently. Without judgement or chastisement. We can help ourselves to do this by slowing the breath right down at the beginning of meditation. The slower the breath is, the slower your thoughts will flow. If your thoughts have slowed down you will not only have more of a chance of recognising them but the tiny space between them has a chance to grow. Take the time at the beginning of your meditation to make each breath a little longer than the last until you are breathing as slowly as possible while being comfortable. Fill your lungs completely to aid this task.
  2. Your anchor – keeping you steady. The thing that keeps your mind steady is the focus of the meditation. This is usually either the breath or a mantra. With the breath you focus on following the sensations of the breath within the body – all the way in and all the way out. A mantra is a word repeated over and over, usually to the rhythm of the breath. The task is to focus on either of these things and when your mind drifts off (as it inevitably will) you bring it back to its anchor again. It gives you the point of reference you need in order to be able to know that you have drifted. The essential thing to remember here is not to be critical of yourself. When you realise that your mind has drifted off just notice where it went and bring it back again. You wouldn’t get angry with a boat for drifting along a current. When you notice that it has you simply pull on the chain until you are back at your chosen location.
  3. Diving into the deep calm waters. If you have ever been diving or snorkelling then you will have noticed that although the surface of the sea is choppy and wavy, below the surface is calm. Sounds are muted down there and you feel weightless. It is this way in meditation when you can eventually sink below the choppy surface of the thoughts to experience your self, your awareness, your consciousness. Essentially this starts out as a shift in awareness. The moment that you realise that your mind has drifted off you have become aware. This awareness is a shift of perspective – you have moved from being within your thoughts to being an observer of your thoughts. This observing awareness is your self. It is your self beyond your mind and beyond your body. It is full of peace. As your meditation practice becomes stronger and regular you give your self that chance to be more present. You will notice thoughts arising but it will be like looking up at the surface of the water from below. You can tell there is activity but it isn’t really affecting your stillness down below. You will also soon be able to notice the place that the thoughts arise from and dissolve back into. At times you will be able to dive even deeper into this space between the thoughts.

And the point of all this? Thoughts breed emotions. Emotions have physical feelings and often very real consequences. Meditation teaches us to be aware of what is going on within us and shows us that we are more than these thoughts and emotions. We have the ability to step back and choose which thoughts to act upon and which thoughts to let go. Meditation is not just for when you are sitting still. Meditation enables you to take awareness into your day. It enables you to take back the control.

I hope this helps you sail the stormy seas a little more effectively. Enjoy the journey.

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