Meditation: You DON'T Have to Empty Your Mind
Because meditation is, in fact, focusing your mind.
And you are making that harder than it really is.
Let me explain.
There are a thousand and one benefits of meditation that’s been proven in science literature (link), including pain and anxiety relief. Yet I hear of too many people giving up after trying it for 10 minutes at the end of a yoga class and getting stressed out because they either fell asleep or their mind kept wandering.
I don’t blame them for falling asleep or having wandering thoughts in the 10 minutes. I mean, we live in a crazy world of multitasking. We like to trick ourselves into thinking we are present and focused as we drive, eat, listen to music, glance at the GPS, and become hyperaware to all things Facebook and texting all at the same time. So of course focusing on just one thing for 10 minute when you’re not used to doing so is difficult.
Now picture an elephant.
You just thought of an elephant, right? Ok, so you just meditated on an elephant and what it looks like.
Walk around for 5 seconds and pay attention to how tense your neck and shoulders are.
Congratulations! You just meditated again. (And you relaxed your neck and shoulders and they went “Ahhh,” right?)
That was easy.
The only part that makes meditation seem hard is this weird idea most of us have that we need to be sitting really still in a really quiet room while shoving away every single thought that spontaneously enters our head while hating ourselves for being “bad at meditation.”
Meditation is literally just a time to focus your attention inwards. Whether physically, so paying attention to your body parts, or mentally, paying attention to your thoughts or imagination.
Meditation is like a mental muscle you have to build.
You wouldn’t walk right up to a weight rack having never lifted weights before and try to squat 200 pounds, would you? Just like how you wouldn’t expect yourself to meditate for 10 minutes having never meditated before.
So give yourself time, love, and space to practice. Start with 5 seconds, then 10 seconds, then 30 seconds, then 1 minute, and 5 minutes, and 10 minutes, and so forth.
Try it sitting still. Try it moving around. Try it laying down.
I didn’t start meditating myself until 3 years ago, and when I started, I was definitely one of those people who insisted I sucked at it. I gradually built up my practice until now, I meditate for at least 45 minutes every morning in order to start my day in good shape, clear headed, and in line with my Future Self. I usually do 15 min of moving meditation - yoga while focusing on my breath. Then about 10 minutes of supine meditation - laying down in corpse pose focusing on my breath. And lastly, a 15-20 minute seated meditation on the couch while focusing on spreading love throughout my body and daydreaming about being my Future Self.
For an 8 min guided meditation recording I made to get you started, watch the video below.