Those of us that have started a practice of meditation have probably experienced this: we earnestly restart a meditation practice when we perceive we begin to suffer whilst going through some sort of turmoil. We fall back into a trusted experience – hopefully! Eventually we breathe a sigh of relief when we move through that which is bothering us and – forget to practice because life begins to beckon us back to a run of thoughts again! We know – don’t we – we’ve lost our focus! We all have these times.
Years ago, when I first started meditation, I found it the hardest thing to do – to stop thought. But then I realized that none of us can stop it; the brain is there to process thoughts and there’s no way you can stop it from doing its job. I soon learned from my teacher that all we can do is learn to ‘observe’ them without any emotion or judgment attached. You see, I learned that the mind is NOT the brain – but is has a symbiotic relationship with it.
If you take the time to think about it, the mind isn’t physical; it is intangible or can’t be seen. But here’s the interesting point, the you that you are is the mind. When you are looking through your eyes – it is you – the mind – making use of the physical function of sight.
The fact is, just like learning to play an instrument, it takes practice. During the beginning stages of a meditation practice, you will without doubt find it hard – but anything worth experiencing is worth putting the work in to make it happen; in this case it’s a no brainer! Here’s a little hint: practice meditation until you can break the 30 minute barrier. And by this I mean that you should work toward being the observer for as long as you can until you break 30 minutes. Remember: the observer doesn’t think! It just observes! Once you’ve broken the 30 minute barrier, watch what happens when you break through an hour. If you don’t think you have the time then ask yourself this question: “Do I want a day that’s going to be relatively easy or do I want my day to be shambolic?”
IF you are using meditation as a tool to feel good – you’ve missed the point of it and you will just come back to the default setting before you started. You must learn to be the observer first up.
4 tips to help you shift into a higher gear of meditation:
1) Use a Journal
This may sound a bit crazy, but yes, you can step out of a meditation to write down an idea you have received. Again, if you think about it, it’s just like observing a thought and deciding whether to entertain it or not, putting it aside to go back into practice being the observer within the meditation. Or you can write down your experience after.
The reason I say keep a meditation journal is really quite simple.
- If you have difficulty meditating, you can use the journal to remind you of the previous experience. Use it as a motivational tool.
- You may want to continue meditating and enlarging the idea you received in a previous meditation. This may be to aide you in business decisions or for whatever you are going through in your day to day life experience.
- You can use the journal to write down questions you wish to ask your ‘self’. This is an interesting part of meditation. If you are ever stuck in an experience during the normal run of the day, you can receive the answer. And you will know it is the correct answer by the way your physical self feels; there will be no question about it, in which case you need to action it as quickly and as practically as possible. If you feel fear at any stage, go back to the mind in meditation and sort it out. Ask questions.
These are the three main reasons but there are probably more you can think of. It’s up to you as an individual to use your journal for whatever you wish. I can’t impress it strongly enough, though, to have a journal and use it often.
2) Break through the timer
Whether you’re in the habit of using a timer or not, each time you meditate, try to extend it in length of time; the benefits are enormous. If you’re new to meditation you may have difficulty maintaining focus over a long period but this is what meditation is all about; you are flexing and strengthening the mind muscle which will have greater results for you in life the more often you practice. Start with 5 minutes then reach to 10 and keep adding another 5 minutes each time you meditate; the task is then simple.
3) Feel free to experiment and ask your ‘self’ questions
One of the greatest things about meditation is that it is ‘open-minded’; this means that you can quite literally go anywhere and do anything within it, which makes it interesting and fun. You have your own ‘gps’ or guidance system; as you meditate and find yourself in that relaxed state, ask yourself a question (it could be anything – from a simple task to a challenge you are attempting to complete), and then let it go. ‘Put it out there’ in other words. There is no doubt the answer will come to you and in most cases when you’re least expecting it. Again, you will know it’s the answer because it will hit you fairly quickly and it will just come out of nowhere without any emotion attached. Either as a fun experiment or in a moment of seriousness – just do it!
4) Small meditation breaks
During the course of the day whether busy or not, I pull myself aside and meditate for 5 to 10 minutes (but often that 5 to ten minutes may get extended to 30 minutes). Essentially, you are giving your brain a break and reconnecting with your ‘self’ (the mind). Just as food is for the body, meditation is another way of recharging your system. You could even just do a breathing meditation for as long as it takes to make and have a coffee.
How quickly will I see results?
This is completely dependent upon how often you meditate; realistically you would not want to take any days off, remember you are attempting to create another positive habit here.
In most cases the most profound changes don’t take place during meditation at all; you will notice the changes in your experience of everyday life. Outside of meditation, you will need to be more ‘mindful’ which means that you are focused on what you are doing ‘within the present moment’; this is a natural state of mind gained from meditation. Mindfulness is really a meditation while you are doing your everyday stuff, with your eyes open. The practice of meditation, then, ekes into your life consequently becoming a quality of your new life-style.
The results of meditation will come through as ideas, pictures in the imagination, physical balance and grounding (you will physically and emotionally feel balanced). These are only some of the ways in which you see the results. Another is the feeling of inspiration; you will be and feel inspired to complete something or start something new; it could be anything but when this happens, don’t question it just do it. If it is good and wholesome for yourself and others and there is no way you can get it out of your head…make preparations and do it. Again, if there are more questions you need to ask before the ‘doing’ go inside first or you may want to discuss it with others who have a solid meditation practice.
Whether you are new or an old hand at meditation, never give up the time and opportunity for even a 10 minute meditation break. You will feel and experience the results as long as you commit and put your time and effort into a consistent meditation practice.