You Don’t Have to Stop Thinking in Order to Meditate Properly
Note from the administrator: A few weeks back, we posted Robin’s article entitled “The #1 Reason Why People Say “I Can’t Meditate!” This is a follow-up piece to that article. Enjoy!
Number One reason for not meditating… I can’t stop thinking!
I can’t stop thinking! This is what I’m told when I recommend meditation to my stressed out, anxious and depressed clients.
It’s the number one reason people tell me they can’t meditate. It’s such a frustration for them. “AUGH!!! I’ve tried, but my brain won’t stop!” It’s at this point that they have already given up. Their brains are always on, thinking on 4 or 5 or 10 levels at the same time and they are feeling hopeless and that nothing will stop this constant onslaught of thoughts. They’ve resigned themselves to sleepless nights, headaches, panic, anxiety, over eating, drinking too much, creating more distress and feeling exhausted. WHEW!
Does this sound familiar to you? Really, I am not surprised. As a culture we are more overworked, overscheduled and stressed than ever before. We are also more prone to try to solve this miserable feeling with behaviors that might bring a moment of relief but have no staying power like alcohol, drugs, food and gambling among many other destructive behaviors. The more we combat our busy mind the more we actually make it stronger! What we end up with is a deeper hole and the feeling that we cannot ever feel better. Fighting your busy mind is a losing battle. It will always win. What if there was another way? What if you didn’t have to give up? What if you could meditate? Would you? We are all seeking peace, calm, relief, space, and the ability to restore our depleted capacity to manage stress! The best way to do this is through the simple everyday practice of meditation. OK, so here’s the problem again…my. brain. won’t. stop. so. I. can’t. meditate!
Now listen here…I have the solution for this problem and it’s big. You do not have to stop thinking to meditate properly! Yes, that’s it! YOU DO NOT HAVE TO STOP THINKING!! Take that idea right off the table and see how that changes things. Having a busy head is normal. Your mind just doesn’t know how to do anything other than what it was designed to do. Having thoughts in meditation is NORMAL, not an indication that you are incapable of doing it. Let go of what you may have heard, read on the internet or believed about meditation. Having thoughts is normal and not a reason to quit meditation! Sorry, I don’t mean to scream, it’s just that so many of you have gotten some bad information and I want you to let it go!
When you first sit in meditation acknowledge that your brain is going to do its thing and thoughts will appear. Remind yourself…”ok thoughts, this is normal…I’m doing ok…keep coming back to breath…” You may have to do this many times in every meditation but remember its OK. Meditation is a practice and you are training your brain to “sit and stay” with every breath.
With practice meditation will actually train your brain to focus on one thing at a time. It won’t happen the first time you sit down but with repetition and acceptance you can learn this. You will begin to slow down that unruly mind of yours and as this happens you develop a natural observation of what your brain does. Instead of fighting the thoughts you start to notice them…”interesting …huh…look at that…wow…” A completely different, neutral perception of your thoughts begins to appear. This review of thoughts rather than reaction to them is much more calming, subtle and very little energy is required.
Does this make sense? Instead of expecting your mind to stop thinking, you accept that thinking is what the mind does. This shift in expectation changes everything about your experience in meditation. Now when your brain does its thing you can calmly and assuredly remind yourself that this isn’t a problem and go back to focusing on your breath.
No more excuses. OK? You can do this. I can help. Send me a message with questions and I’d be happy to talk to you!
Robin, The Meditation Addict
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About the Author: Robin Byrne is a licensed therapist and knowledgeable meditation specialist from Scottsdale, Arizona. Check her out over at r3meditation.com!
Image Source: Kimberly Hoyle (KimberlyHoylePhotography.com). All rights reserved. Please contact Kimberly to reproduce this image.