Meditation will change your life. Surely, you’ve heard this before, yes? And you probably thought in response, “How the eff will sitting there trying not to think change my life?” – and this is a fair question. The answer: Meditation is able to change people’s lives because it changes the way we think, and our minds rule our lives.
The power in meditation is all about awareness of your mind, and learning to use it as a tool that serves you; rather than the other way around.
When you start to view your mind from the perspective that it’s just one of the many tools at your disposal in your human body, like your hand or your nose, you begin to detach from your thought patterns like they are who you are. The problem with defining oneself by the thoughts streaming through your head, is that they aren’t all gems. Our thought patterns are often just conditioned responses to our environment, and many of them are not actually of service to the lives we’re working to create.
When we define ourselves by our thoughts, we feel a need to defend them. This makes change impossible. When you befriend your mind, thereby befriending your ego, you can start to work with it so it serves you better – sans all that messy identity crisis stuff. Meditation starts off this process by cluing you into what the heck’s going on up there, crucial info.
And it’s highly likely that you’ll “suck at meditation” when you start, this is totally normal. You’ll probably think the whole time; but you’ll still be highly productive because you’re learning mindfulness, how to cultivate awareness of what your mind is doing. If you stick with it, it gets easier, more relaxing, and will lead to great (great!) insight and inspiration. Here’s the how’s:
- Get Comfy. There are people out there who will tell you that you must sit a certain way, and you should ignore them. Posture helps focus (imagining a line going from the base of your spine, pulling through the top of your head), and if you lie down you run a higher risk of falling asleep – but I have fibromyalgia and often enjoy meditation curled up in a comfy ball. As always, do you.
- Focus on Your Breath. Breathe deeply, focusing on the sensation of air flowing out into your nose, the full feeling of your lungs, how the air feels as it passes back out, etc. As thoughts spring to mind, do as Mooji says and, “Let every thought come and hug you, but you don’t hug anything. Then, gradually, the noise will start to back off.” And when it does, things get mega-peaceful. It’s the shit.
- Don’t Get Judgy. You won’t be pleased at all of your thought patterns, there may even be content that you feel ashamed of. Well, knock it off! Your brain has been culturally conditioned by the world that we live in, which encourages all kinds of not-fun nonsense. Just let it go, and don’t be surprised if it takes awhile. The thought patterns (and neural pathways) will start to lose their mojo, and eventually peter out. YOU ARE NOT YOUR MIND. It is your tool, and you can learn to use it as you wish.
- Repeat. Start with a 5-minute session and work up from there. Challenge yourself to get up to 20 minutes, and to do it everyday for a month. (If you’re not hooked by then, you get a full refund for this article!) You can also take it out into the world, actively meditating, watching your mind and working to still it, while your waiting in line, doing dishes, or taking a stroll in the woods.
- Learn More. There are many more methods of meditation besides mindfulness. We just went over moving meditation, and I’ve recently fallen in love with transcendental meditation, which involves working with a mantra. What else can you uncover?