“Do you meditate?” is one of the first things I ask everyone who comes to me for a private session or to learn Reiki. The reason is in the 15 years I have been doing energy work and body work I have noticed the people who have a regular meditation practice are more balanced physically and energetically and tend to be heartier and more robust over all. Going inward is how we commune with the deepest parts of ourselves, where we find inner wisdom, balance, inspiration, and peace.
Most folks’ response to that question about meditation is they’ve tried it but they can’t do it because they can’t get their mind to settle down. If this has been your experience, I have great news for you…that’s how it’s supposed to feel. The fact that your mind just won’t settle down doesn’t mean you can’t do it or you’re doing it wrong. This is what it’s like for everyone sometimes, especially when they first begin to practice meditation.
There are many different types of meditation but they all have a couple of things in common. There’s you; you’re always there with your mind and thoughts. And then there is the object of attention. This can be your breath, a mantra, an object, a process, or the voice of someone guiding you. You attempt to focus your mind on the object of attention and it wanders and you bring it back and then this process is repeated over and over.
What matters most in this process isn’t how long you stay focused or how long you sit. One of the most important things about this process is how you talk to yourself when it seems like your mind just won’t cooperate. If you get aggravated and berate yourself for not being able to focus, it just makes things worse. That monkey mind gets wilder and wilder. The trick is to be sweet to yourself like you’re talking to a precious child. The softer and more patient you can be, the quicker your mind will focus.
There are a few things I have found make it work better. One is to use a timer, that way you don’t keep looking at the clock to see how long you’ve been doing it. Another is to do it first thing upon waking. Don’t even get out of bed, just sit up wrapped in your covers and prop up on your pillows. It’s really easy to get into the zone when you’re half asleep already, you’re halfway there. Meditating with a group can also be very helpful; the shared energy supports everyone in the process.
If you find you can’t meditate for long periods of time try doing mini-meditations throughout the day. Whenever it comes to mind and you are in a good location, just do it. 1 minute is great. One whole minute in which you drop all the worries of your day, drop all the stories about who you are and what you’re supposed to do, one whole minute where you get to just be…that is amazing. I minute five times a day is even better. The more frequently you allow yourself to go into the meditative state the easier it will be to get there and to keep going for longer periods of time.
Meditation isn’t focusing on your object of attention with your mind never wavering. Meditation is the process of consistently bringing your mind back to center. That is the work and it never ends. Some days and some times are better than others. But just like with any skill, the more you practice the easier it becomes.