If you struggle with meditation, there’s a good chance that this advice will help you. I’m not much of a gambler but I’d put money on it. It’s something that every meditator experiences and, for many of them, it’s their last experience.
Meditation is like anything else: some days are easier than others. Sure, some of you are naturals. And, yes, if your practice, it does become easier. But no matter how much experience you have, there are days where your thoughts loop and you can’t let go.
It’s tough. I know how bad it is – thanks to my obsessive personality, I’m probably poorly suited for meditation. It’s something I’ve had to tame, channel and overcome.
This is good news for you.
Partly because my obsession with writing is why you’re reading these words in the first place.
And also because I know how to settle your thoughts, even when they won’t cooperate.
It’s a simple enough process. It’s not easy, but it sure is simple.
To let go of your thoughts, emotions or whatever else is swirling in your head, then you need to start with this:
Stop judging yourself.
Now, this is a challenge at the best of times. Noticing that your thoughts are racing is a judgement. To settle your mind, I recommend practicing the art of noticing without judging.
It’s passive but don’t let that fool you. It’s harder and more nuanced than doing anything.
View your thoughts. Breathe through them. Know that whatever they are doing is good, right and proper. Accept them for what they are.
And if your attitude of acceptance isn’t perfect, then accept that too. This is the challenge – to avoid judging your thoughts, then avoid judging your judgement.
Another strategy is to bring your awareness to the present moment. This might make it easier to accept your thoughts, or accepting your thoughts might make this easier.
Your thoughts never race about the present moment. You either fixate on a memory or a projection into the future. Imagination and recall are both seductive, and meditation is the art of letting go.
You breathe in the present moment, so focus on that. You experience your body in the present too. Bring your awareness to anything that grounds you in now.
The final strategy is to give it time. Your thoughts probably won’t settle immediately. Practice non-judgement and present awareness, and your thoughts will calm a little. This is progress worth acknowledging. Keep it up and you’ll finally let go.
As I said, these skills aren’t easy. You could spend years truly mastering them. Fortunately, any improvement in these yields results. As long as you keep working on yourself, you’ll grow stronger.
There are self-hypnosis techniques that use this stream of consciousness. If you can’t switch it off – or don’t want to – maybe try learning how to use it.