Understatement time: meditation is good for you. I keep browsing the literature, trying to find something that meditation doesn’t do. It’s not easy, given that you can combine meditation with other skills. If there’s something that uses your brain – and what doesn’t? – then meditation is useful. But not everyone finds meditation easy. So, if you’ve struggled with meditation before, then here are some tips to consider.
Learning to completely clear your mind takes time. It’s a skill like any other. It takes practice.
Even when you’re able to do it, the process of emptying your thoughts is just that: a process. You can’t flip a switch to shut down your inner dialogue. It’s like slowly turning down the volume on all objections, criticisms and distractions. In other words, it takes time.
For a long time, your mind will “only” feel a little clearer after meditating than before. It might be a subtle change, but even a small step in the right direction has value. Stick with it and you’ll notice this improve over time.
Then again, who says you need to clear your mind at all? If that’s difficult for you, then here’s a thought: keep thinking.
You can meditate by fixating all awareness on a single sensation or concept. So why not fixate on your inner dialogue? Step back and observe your thoughts. Don’t judge, assess or manipulate them. Don’t let them influence you. Simply observe.
If your thoughts are turbulent and noisy, give this a go. You’ll find it easier than silencing them, but it has the same benefits.
If you think there’s only one type of meditation, that’s like thinking there’s only one type of sport. And if you struggle with that one sport, it doesn’t mean you’re not athletic.
I’ve mentioned two types of meditation already. Did you know you can meditate while going for a walk? Have you tried loving-kindness meditation? Does it change anything when your focus is on your breath, your thoughts or your right pinkie finger? Can you bring a scene or symbol to mind and fixate on that?
Have you tried self-hypnosis?
Well, maybe not 40. Or maybe, yeah, try 40. Because if you are going to meditate 40 times in one day, that’s only possible if you, say, meditate every 15 minutes over ten hours.
Of course, if you were to do this, you could only meditate for 20 seconds at a time. Any more than that and you’re not living your life. So, keep each session short.
You can be pretty easy on yourself in this case. You didn’t clear your mind? Of course not – you only had 20 seconds! But you do feel calmer and more focused, don’t you?
This takes all the pressure off. You can’t focus on results when you have to make your quota. Just shut up, meditate and get back to it.
Who knows. You might learn a lot more about meditation than you realise.
When starting off, it helps to have someone remind you to focus. Don’t underestimate the value of guided meditations. There are plenty of providers out there. I have a few free tracks if you’re interested.
Meditation is easier than you think. If you’re struggling, you might have the wrong idea about what to do or what to expect. That’s okay. There’s a lot of noise around meditation, so you can lose sight of the fundamentals. Practice and experiment with it. If you think something works for you, ignore the gurus and do it.
And if you want some more guidance, I suppose there’s always that free meditation guide I wrote…