I’m sure you’ve heard: ‘all you have to do is sit quietly and still your mind‘. They make it sound so simple, don’t they! And theoretically, perhaps it is.
But most of us soon come to realize that stilling our mind requires patience and dedication. That’s why it’s referred to as a meditation ‘practice’. No one knows how to do this stuff in the beginning! We have to practice. It’s not just you. Everyone’s mind runs rings around them, especially in the beginning. We’ve all been there (most people are still there).
Back to the breath. Another thought will come. Before too long, you may realise you have once again become ensnared by your sneaky mind. This is ok. This is how it is. This is the nature of the mind. Do not berate yourself. It’s not a drama. Just quietly internally consider yourself successful and then move on. Back to the breath. Observe your breath. Allow the breath to breathe you. No need to control the breath. Just watch the breath coming in and again leaving your body.
Initially, even a three-minute meditation session may feel like an eternity. This changes, and with more and more practice, you’ll find it becomes less challenging and that you’re more quickly able to relax and find your calm centre.
As with most things, the more you practice, the more it becomes second nature. Eventually, you will begin to find quiet within yourself and you will come to love your meditation sessions.
A common misconception is that meditation is about ‘controlling’ the mind. The reality is that if we try to force the mind to shut up it just gets louder. Our mind is not dissimilar to a 2-year-old child behaving badly.
As a general rule of thumb when this happens is to ignore the attention-seeking-behaviour. That is, we do not engage with it and by not giving the bad behaviour attention, generally the child stops that behaviour.
The questions you should be asking yourself are:
‘Will you allow this badly behaved, attention-seeking 2yr old to control every waking moment of your life?’
‘Is this what you want? Does it make you happy?’
You Are Not Your Mind
Identifying with your thoughts is simply a bad habit. It’s similar in ways to gazing at the sky and seeing clouds. We observe the clouds, we do not get up on the cloud and ride around. We do not engage in a dialogue with the cloud. We simply see it. The cloud is there. The cloud comes, the cloud passes. We learn to allow thoughts to enter the mind and pass through again without engaging with them.
A monk sits calmly in her house sipping tea. She has left her front door open and she has also left her back door open too. When asked why, she replies:
‘Thoughts enter and can pass out again unimpeded. I have not invited them to tea’.
So don’t be afraid to leave the door open!
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