We would all prefer a peaceful and balanced life. To not be constantly inundated with thoughts of all the stuff you haven’t gotten done or awkward moments that still haunt you. I feel that meditation is a great way to find that balance in your life. A consistent practice could bring you the clarity you have been seeking.
When you delve into the world of meditation there is a great deal of information out there and some of it can be very intimidating. Many get discouraged by trying it once and having those haunting thoughts flood in. As you are struggling to find the peace and quiet and seem unable, you become convinced that it is something you just can’t do.
You may feel that more attempts would only result in more frustration which defeats the whole purpose. Don’t give up though! It’s rarely perfect the first time, or even the first few times, but there are ways to mitigate the distractions and bring yourself back to your pursuit for balance and peace. It may not fit the perfect picture of meditation and that really isn’t what I am suggesting with these tips. These are the ways I have used to find those quiet moments for myself to sort things out. Some of them may even seem like the opposite of what you have read on meditation. The point is to make you comfortable and take the insecurity out of it so you can find your way there.
Think about it though, how often do you give yourself moments of peace and quiet during the day? Most people are just trying to keep up with the hustle and bustle of life and the only times we have peace and quiet are when we lay in bed to go to sleep. That’s typically when all the thoughts you didn’t have time to think throughout your day come flooding in.
Also we have made it a practice these days to stay distracted. The internet is right on our phones, and it’s full of content perfect for distraction. I am also often guilty of this, but I have learned, though imperfectly, to try to take breaks from it throughout the day when there is time. Shutting off the TV, putting down the phone to have real conversations or just to give myself a chance to think. The point is without those quiet moments, when we finally do decide to take a few, it makes sense that the thoughts would surge forth at this golden opportunity.
I have been meditating for years, and, though I follow no particular style or rule set, I have seen great benefits. The more I meditate the more centered and calm I am throughout the day. Taking only 5 minutes, even to just be with yourself in quiet, can make a big difference. Through the years of my informal meditation practice, I have come up with a few ways to get and keep myself on track during meditation sessions. Here are 7 ways to improve your success, even if you have never been able to meditate before.
- Before you even start, get yourself in a happy place. A quick way to do this is to think of the things that make you smile, whether it is current things in your life that you are grateful for, or happy memories you still cherish. Think of all the happy things that you can until you are smiling. That’s when you know you are ready.
- Many of us are naturally nervous about time and its constraints in general. That isn’t a concern you want to start your meditation session with. Give yourself ample time and don’t rush it. This doesn’t mean you have you to meditate for an hour, it only means that if you feel any anxiety right from the beginning it will make it a lot harder to find that place of focus and peace. If you have a definitive amount of time available to you, set a timer. Then you know that you will finish in the allotted time, and you can let that anxiety go.
- Tell yourself that you are safe and it is okay to take this time for yourself. Say it in your head or even out loud. Sometimes hearing it, even if it comes from you, will make it more real and believable. If you get into position and you feel undeserving of the time you are taking, or you begin to think about all the other things you could or should be doing, tell yourself it is okay to take this time for yourself. Those other things will be there when you are finished, and perhaps the mediation session will give you the clarity you need to get it done.
- Try different tools within your meditation, if you feel like a guided meditation will help the most, use that. If you have a favorite peace-inducing piece of music, listen to that. If you don’t have access to either, a trick I use is, when the thoughts start flooding in “play” a song that makes you happy in your head. If visual art moves you more, picture one of your favorites in your head, but try to make it something that makes you happy. You can focus on that until you feel the intruding thoughts are fading, and lower the volume until you don’t need it anymore. If you are using accompanying music and the thoughts still flood in, find one element (one tone or instrument) of the music to focus on, then expand out as you are able.
- Imagine a beautiful place. Imagine you are there and enjoying the scenery. Try to sink into it as much as you can. You don’t have to do anything in that place, just observe and enjoy. You won’t need this tool as much as you get more used to meditation, but if it promotes relaxation and happiness and can keep you calm and focused, then use it.
- Listen, observe, but don’t analyze. As you find that place of relaxation and expansion, sometimes insights will pop into your head. This is different from your own personal worries and concerns. When they do, don’t engage. Let these insights come and go, but tell yourself you will remember them after you are finished with your meditation. Just say quickly in your head ‘Help me to remember this’ then let it go. You may lose a few insights in the beginning, but don’t get frustrated; chances are it may dawn on you sometime later, when you most need that kind of wisdom.
- Give yourself time after the meditation session to jot down any insights. Even if your time is short, try to spare a minute or two after to write down anything that popped in. If you can spare the time for a full journaling session, that’s even better but not necessary. You can save the analyzation or journaling for later, if that’s what fits your schedule. Journaling may not appeal to you, but it can really help you keep tabs on the progress you’re making. I recommend keeping a record of some kind, even if it doesn’t involve pouring out your soul onto paper.
Hopefully this list will help you tap into the calming and balancing power of meditation. Start slow, if needed, and take it at your own pace. Don’t compare your progress to others; just enjoy the time and space you are gaining to put things into perspective. You deserve it!