First things first. Meditation does not mean you stop thinking, nor does it mean that you ever get to a point where your head is completely empty. That’d be really cool, but it doesn’t happen, at least not to any living person that we know. Thoughts will come and go, and at the beginning they will come and go often, quickly, and, yes obsessively. That’s called resistance. You want to sit, but you don’t.
Places to send that pesky mind chatter:
When thoughts come in, watch them float away above your head on Thought River.
Down the River
Send them on their way like uninvited guests, but gently. Don’t slam the door on them, just say thank you for showing up today but I’m not interested.
The Bubble Graveyard
Imagine if each thought that arises is in a bubble. As the bubbles appear, pop them and watch them disappear.
Thought Detox Meditation
Take a seat.
Close your eyes.
Take 3 deep belly breaths.
Notice each inhale and exhale while breathing deeply and slowly.
Choose a place to send mind chatter (see above) and consciously notice each thought and send it to your chosen place.
Continue for 5 to 15 minutes.
The Mind: What Comes Up
Meditation will bring your stuff up, and not just your blissful, happy, loving, joyous stuff, but after some time on the cushion, it will be far easier to accept all of it, even the difficult stuff. Accepting everything removes the charges that our feelings carry. Just sit with them. They won’t bite you. Thoughts are just thoughts. Uncomfortable thoughts, weird thoughts, creepy thoughts, bad, mad, sad, evil thoughts enter everyone’s mind, so let them. By allowing them to share the stage with all of your other thoughts, they lose their power. They’re just thoughts; they don’t own you.
Watch the Boredom
Boredom is just another form of resistance, so pay attention to it. What does it look like? Feel like? Where is it coming from? What are you not allowing yourself to experience? What is the fear?
Watch the Stew
If you are in any sort of snit or rage, sit now in the heat of the moment. It will calm you down so that you don’t do something stupid or regretful. It will change your state of mind and take the edge off. Stewing is another word for getting hijacked by your thoughts. Letting go is not buying into it; it’s stepping back and watching the thoughts and not falling for them. That is how you stop the stew.
Watch Out for the Meditation Blues
Whether you have a good experience or one that you don’t love, you’re setting yourself up for a disappointment if you try to repeat anything. The only thing you can do with a good session (and a bad one) is to let it go. Comparison never works, nor do expectations. Do it every time like it’s the first time and you and will never have a bad session, just a session.
Watch Out For The Grocery Lists
If you find yourself making to-do lists and getting too much done while you are meditating, pay attention to it. The lists will lose their sense of urgency as you notice them; they’ll still come up (all the time), but they won’t be so important.
Watch Out For The Progress Reports
Progress with meditation is not so easy to measure. It’s not like you can get on a scale and see how much weight you’ve dropped. And unless you have an fMRI machine at home, there really isn’t any measuring to be done. Sometimes you’ll notice the effects immediately, but as for longer-term, longer-lasting benefits, they usually come out of the blue when you have a realization like, Wow, or I didn’t react like I normally do, or When did I get so patient or compassionate or understanding? We’ve been duped into believing that the good stuff will create instantaneous change. Pop a pill and become a new person. Sadly, with meditation and anything genuine, it doesn’t work that way. Just show up every day. That’s your mission. We promise your life will indeed be shifted, altered, changed, and much better. Show up and stop worrying about what you get in return.
Watch Out For The Mean Watcher
When you sit to meditate, do so with kindness and compassion so that when thoughts arise, you can gently watch them without judgment. When we add negative or aggressive energy, even to the watching of the innocent little thoughts, it layers the practice with negativity and it shuts down our ability to sit back and see ourselves with acceptance and love.
Watch Out For Brilliance
Aha moments, creative downloads, answers to difficult mathematical equations, solutions to the world’s problems, brilliant ideas—all of these things may come up while you are simply sitting in meditation, and we should hope they do. You may wonder what you should do when it happens. Should you stop sitting and grab a pen and paper? Perhaps, if it’s that good, we say write it down. But most of the time, pay attention and keep meditating; if it’s that life-changing, you won’t forget it in the next 11 minutes.
From the book "JUST SIT: A Meditation Guidebook For People Who Know They Should But Don’t," by Sukey and Elizabeth Novogratz. Copyright © 2017 by Sukey and Elizabeth Novogratz. Published on December 26, 2017 by Harper Wave, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted by permission.
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