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Let's face it: in this fast-paced world, where our minds are stimulated 24/7, the concept of meditation makes most people cringe away as too woo-woo and tough.
After all, how do you stop your mind from wandering while you meditate?
But what if I told you that, contrary to popular belief, meditation is not about sitting still and making your mind go blank? What if I told you that there are more than 144 techniques of meditation, most of which actually engage your mind actively?
If that peaked your curiosity, the following article will change your mind about meditation forever.
The Ridiculous Expectation Of Mastering Meditation On The First Day
You don't walk into a gym for the first time in your life and expect to lift a 120 kg deadweight. Then why expect phenomenal success when you first try meditating?
Meditation is not easy. Just like lifting weights is not easy. It takes time, effort, and constant practice to get better at both.
So, the next time you meditate, don't expect amazing things to happen. Focus on your breath (like you would focus on the 1 kg dumbbell), stop comparing yourself to people who have been meditating for a while now (like you would not compare yourself to the bodybuilders at your gym), and just work on training your mind to return to your breath every time it wanders off.
And do this without judging yourself.
Don’t Resist, “Be Like Water”
When Bruce Lee said his famous line "be like water", he was wisely telling people to stop resisting change.
You can apply the same to meditation.
When you sit down in your favored meditative pose and close your eyes, it will seem like your mind is deliberately trying to sabotage you by throwing a flurry of images and thoughts your way. But that's not the truth.
In reality, your mind was busy the entire time. You just weren't quiet enough to witness the cacophony.
So, the next time you meditate, don't reprimand yourself when your mind wanders off or keeps chiming about a problem in life. Be like water, stop resisting, and jump from thought to thought, aware that you are intentionally doing it.
This is a form of mindful meditation that allows you to introspect your stresses and anxieties.
A Stone In The Middle Of A River
Ever seen a large boulder sitting in the middle of a flowing river with churning, white eddies all around its base? The boulder does not stop the water from flowing. Instead, it sits in peace as the water bounds over and around it, smoothing its rough edges with every flow.
Meditating on your breath is similar.
So, don't admonish yourself or your thoughts. Allow them to flow over and around you, as you focus on your breath.
Just like the rock does not follow the current of the river, don't follow your thoughts when they arise. Just observe them peacefully and maintain your attention on your breath.
And if a thought manages to drag your attention away, don't be angry at it. Just let it go once you realize your mind wandered, and return to your breath.
Engage Your Five Senses
This is my favorite method of mindful meditation because it allows your mind to naturally jump from one thing to another.
Start by sitting in a comfortable position either on a chair with your feet firmly planted on the ground or cross-legged on the bed or the floor. Then focus on what you can hear and jump from one sound to the next.
Don't analyze what you hear. Just observe the sounds all around you: cars honking on the road, a vegetable vendor crying out the price of his wares, birds chirping, the fan blades whirring in your room.
The more you let your mind observe the sounds around you, the sharper your sense of hearing will get.
Then, move onto your sense of smell.
Smell the scents in the room with each breath. Sometimes you will smell nothing. But that is okay. Just smell.
Next, move on to the taste in your mouth.
The flavor in your mouth will depend on the time of the day you are meditating and what you were doing before that. Don't judge anything or analyze. Just focus on the taste in your mouth.
Then, focus on what you can see through your closed eyelids.
And finally, focus on your sense of touch.
Feel your hands resting on your lap. The hair on your head moving gently as the wind brushes past them. The hardness or softness of the ground or chair underneath you.
Shift your attention from one part of your body to another.
During your next session, you can try engaging all your senses at once. It will be difficult at first, but with practice, you will succeed in doing so.
How To Stop Your Mind From Wandering While You Meditate
Meditation is about returning to square one: yourself. And so, to summarize:-
- Just like building muscles, you will find meditation difficult at first.
- Do not scold yourself when your mind wanders while you meditate. Instead, be like water, stop resisting your thoughts, and just be aware of them as they come and go.
- When focusing on your breath, allow your thoughts to rush past you. Don't judge them or try to stop them. Be like a peaceful boulder sitting in the middle of a flowing river.
- Focus and engage with each of your senses when you meditate. That will help you stay in the moment.