A positive attitude is often touted as a secret ingredient to success. And it’s true: your outlook can impact everything from your sales numbers to your mental health. For me it was painful. My mind wandered, I would clock this and then scold myself. To me, meditation was about having a clear mind, like some sort of vacuous white hole filled with air and bright shining lights. I fluctuated between it being tranquil to manic, and back to peace for a moment and in the midst of it all I realised I missed the point of the whole thing. Here are some pointers for how to meditate.
Our Thoughts Are Not Us
For meditation isn’t to quash all living thoughts in your mind. It’s in fact the opposite. See what many of us don’t realise is that our thoughts are just moving parts of the big picture. They are driven by our unconscious, that ferrill force within that doesn’t always have your best interests at heart. So consciously we’re thinking thoughts that our unconscious has formed based on experiences we can’t remember which all seems a bit daft when you think about it really.
Thoughts it seems are no different to gas in some ways. They come and go, from nowhere it seems. A reaction to something, in need of release, the important thing being that they don’t define you. You are not the product of your wind, sing it loud and proud. And therefore you should not be the product of your thoughts either. Why do we take our thoughts as gospel without questioning the conditions in which they arise. The other night for example I didn’t sleep very well. I woke in the morning, rolled right back over and arose at 11:10. I scolded myself of course, what are you doing? You’re so lazy? Why didn’t you just get up when your alarm went off?
You didn’t sleep because you were up scrolling through Instagram until 1 am and now it’s nearly midday and your hair is greasy, your house a mess and this is living proof that you wouldn’t amount to much. I went about my day with a grey cloud looming – every interaction tainted, I was disorganized, I couldn’t wait for my boyfriend to come home so that I could nitpick at him, a welcome relief from nitpicking myself to shreds.
The point is that this isn’t an isolated incident and I’m sure as hell, not the only one guilty of this. In reality, I probably needed a rest, I had been busy so had I been a little kinder to myself my whole day, my enjoyment, my productivity probably could have been different. Instead, I chose to judge my thoughts, to attach meaning to them. Basically the complete opposite of what meditation encourages.
Meditation is about realising this – you are not your thoughts. They come and go like ships in the night and off they toddle on their merry way if you let them. Distractions will happen, you’re mind will wander to work, to home, to now but let them pass. Try not to attach to anything in particular, just let them pass. So when you’re meditating and a thought or feeling comes to mind know that this is normal – observe the thought from afar and be. Don’t get hung up, you are doing everything right, the point isn’t to maintain a blank mindspace but to note how you’re feeling, to note what’s coming to mind and to use it as a way to spot patterns and to live more consciously.
How To Meditate – Top Tips!
- Feel your breath, you don’t have to focus on it just be aware that you are breathing and that’s enough
- Expect distraction, you’re human, this is natural. Take note of distractions, refocus on your breath and celebrate the fact that you spotted it and broke it and you’re now back in meditative bliss.
- Your thoughts are not you. Let them come and go, these will begin to provide insight that you can’t buy elsewhere. Noting them as an observer rather than assuming this is who you are can be enough to create new patterns of thinking
- Sit and get as comfortable as you can but know that it can be uncomfortable, especially when it’s early days for you. The aim is to keep your spine reasonably straight, close your eyes, or not, and if not then soften your gaze. Do whatever feels most comfortable to you. The rest will follow.
- Practice. Like all the best things practice makes perfect and this rings true for meditation. The key to experiencing benefits if to incorporate it into your daily routine, even if only for 5 minutes. 5 minutes every day is better than 20 on a Tuesday. Build it up, the more you practice the easier it will be for you to slip into it.
- Enjoy – this is your time. Relax. Breathe. Be.