“What do I have to do immediately after this? ...Wait! No! No, future planning. Be Present… Breathe.”
*Sounds of deep breathing* *Inner Thoughts*
“I’m presently hungry. Should I stop and eat? …Stop it. Focus! I mean don’t focus, but focus… free my mind. Breathe.”
*Continued sounds of inhaling and exhaling* *Inner Thoughts*
“…He hasn’t text me today. Ugh, why not? What’s he doing? …Oh my God mind why can’t you just shut up?! I’m trying to get you right! Help me help you! Just be still and freaking breathe.”
Okay, that might not be exactly how your meditation sessions go, or it might be exactly how it goes. Where you just can’t seem to get to that place of inner peace and mental rejuvenation for even a second. If you’re like me, don’t worry you’re not alone. Just how I have to practice and have patience to one day put my butt on my head (or whatever your goal Yoga posture is), I have to exercise those same qualities when it comes to my meditative practice. One doesn’t just bring their mind to stillness overnight, it takes effort, consistency, and persistence.
Furthermore, just how there are many variations to performing a specific posture, there isn’t just one set way to meditate. That’s a common misconception. There are many different routes to help steady our minds. My meditation practice use to be inconsistent and tedious because I was approaching it from a singular standpoint. I thought that I had to sit in stillness, deprave my mind of any thoughts and focus solely on my breathing, with the exception of reciting a mantra or chant.
It took me awhile to realize that I do variations of postures in my physical practice that my body isn’t quite ready to fully perform, so why not do the same with my meditative practice? Bodies are different, different things work for different bodies. The very same is true with minds. I had to find what works for my mind until I am at the mental level to just sit undisrupted in stillness and peace. I also had to learn that it is completely acceptable to allow thoughts to enter your mind during meditation. It is a natural occurrence.
The trick is to not hold on or embellish on those passing thoughts. Keyword: “passing”. Let those thoughts come, and just as easily let them go. Don’t further elaborate on them. During my meditation, I think of my thoughts as ocean waves. I see the wave building up (when I feel a thought creeping out of my subconscious mind), once the wave reaches its peak it comes crashing down eventually flooding the shore (the thought is now fully in my conscious mind, I am aware and acknowledge it), then the residue of the wave resides back into the depths (the thought returns to the subconscious). Not you nor I can capture a wave; stop it to ponder further upon it. Such is the same with thoughts during meditation. Don’t be Gandalf, let them pass! Really Channing, with the corny Lord of the Rings joke? …Yes.
Now, ask yourself what works best for steadying your mind. Some variations to the meditative practice can be playing an instrument, strolling through nature, floating in water, forms of art, listening to music... the possibilities are endless. I do suggest not partaking in any physically or mentally strenuous variations such as running or puzzle solving, no matter how relaxing you may find them. Physical exertion is meant as preparation for meditating and of course any critical thinking is counterproductive to the point of meditation.
So, what’s my variation to meditating?
Adult coloring books. Yes, I sometimes color as a form of meditating or as a gateway to entering a deeper meditative state. I found that while coloring my mind becomes empty, relaxed, and stress-free. I don’t analyze the color pattern, just as when I am doing a free flowing asana practice, I let the colors flow. Naturally choosing the palette that either reflects my mood or that I feel will guide me towards the mood I’d rather find myself in. I occasionally color to some soft background music, however usually I like to let my breath be the music my hand sways to. The fascinating thing I discovered about my coloring meditation practice is when I allow myself to become stuck on a thought (trying to capture that wave), my hand slips and I color outside of the line. I can actually witness and reference on the page when and where my concentration broke. Which in turn quickly allows me to refocus and let that thought return to passing.
So, don’t stress if your meditation practice doesn’t look like everyone else’s or “the norm”. Experiment with different variations and do what works and feels best for your mind. As long as you are striving to rest your mind in its natural awareness, completely unaffected by situations that may arise, you are succeeding. Then, one day the pleasure of having the ability to sit in physical and mental stillness like a Monk on a Himalayan Hill will be ours. Remember to keep the practice, patience, and persistence.
Grow With Your Flow,