Trying to start meditating without a teacher or a guide, is like a child trying to find their way out of a candy store without an adult; it can be a really difficult process.
Your brain is a brilliant organ and it has been created to think, so how do you control random thoughts? What on earth are you supposed to be thinking about when you are meditating?
Guided meditation is useful in that you follow another person's voice as they gently tell you what you should be doing. This is done either alone, in a group setting, or with audio recording, podcast, or apps. This removes the guesswork from what you are supposed to be doing.
Figure out your meditation goals before you start
Take a few moments to figure out your own meditation goal before you get started. Are you trying to relax and eliminate frustration? Do you need to take control of your anxiety? Are you wanting to be able to pay attention and focus more on your activities?
When you meditate, you are striving to reach a certain stillness within yourself. It's not always easy but with practice, you will find that it will become easier to move into a meditative state.
What is meditation?
If you ask ten different people what meditation is, you'll get ten different answers. But these answers will all have a common thread.
Meditation, in a nutshell, is an intense focus and awareness.
It is an excellent process for anyone wanting to become more focused on their own journey. If you are an overthinker, you will also reap the benefits of mediation as you will gradually learn how to master your own thinking.
Meditating with an overactive mind
However, there is a common misconception that they cannot meditate because their mind is busy.
Why do people believe this?
Your heart beats and you can meditate. Your kidneys work and you can meditate. But when your mind works, you immediately start feeling that you're doing something wrong. Don't forget that it's taken millennia for our minds to evolve into this brilliant thing we have today. So why would you actually want to stop it from what it was created to do?
Take a moment and think about this: studies show that your brain subconsciously absorbs approximately 74 GB of information in a day. That is a lot of information, the equivalent of 16 movies! Think of all of the lights, sounds, colors, words, people, memes, videos, and more that you are exposed to on a daily basis. You are absorbing all of this information so it is only natural for your mind to wander and to be filled with thoughts.
One of the biggest meditation tips that you can learn is how to create distance between your mind and your body. Once you can do this, then what your mind is doing is not an issue.
Think about entering a marathon. If you are running a marathon, it's tiring. Your body gets hot, it's sore, you're sweating, there are so many people, you feel the impact every time your feet hit the road, you can hear the cheering of the crowds.
But if you are in a hot air balloon and looking down on the marathon, it's a completely different experience. It's just a marathon. It is still the same thing but now it looks different because there's a distance.
You need to create that same distance between yourself and your mind; become an observer and then your mind will no longer be a problem.
Controlling your thoughts during meditation
As mentioned earlier, guided meditations are a great way for you to learn and begin meditating.
This is a form of meditation that gives you the ability to learn how to meditate by following someone with intention as they guide you through a journey for a specific purpose and it helps you to pay attention to the things you need to pay attention to.
Because you are being instructed, guided meditation helps your thought processes slow down and allows you to create that distance between yourself and your mind, and then you are able to observe your thoughts.
But in times of stillness and quiet, you will notice that naturally, your mind wanders. Thoughts from your daily life will pop into your head and your mind will become busy. Things like:
- Did I switch off the stove?
- What time is that meeting?
- Do I have enough money for my debit orders?
- I need to go to get bread.
Stop. Don't stress. Breathe. Focus on what you are doing during your meditation session and distance your mind between yourself and your physical activity.
Stop trying to stop thinking
One of the purposes of meditation practice is to learn how to separate yourself from your thoughts; to develop a healthier internal relationship with yourself.
So that you can better observe your own thoughts and better question them.
Being aware of what is happening in your mind can enhance your focusing. Visualization is an excellent tool to learn. An example of this is to visualize your thoughts as if they are objects floating down a river; simply focus on them in your mind and then step out of the river and watch them float away.
Don't engage with these thoughts but rather be a watchful observer.
For a beginner, learning to sit, focusing on your breathing, and allowing your thoughts to float in and out of your mind without judgment actually does take conscious effort. If you realize that you are interacting with your thoughts, you need to step back, watch them and let them go.
Now turn your focus back to your breathing.
You could be discarding your thoughts as often as every couple of seconds. As you continue to meditate, dismissing those thoughts will become easier and more natural. The more often you do it, the more it will become ingrained and become a habit. There is no mistake here; success is pushing those thoughts away and watching them disappear.
Enhance your meditation skills
Once you are able to separate yourself from your thoughts, begin to explore and learn new meditation practices. Try breathing and counting, and then progress on to learning to conduct your own body scan.
Meditational activity helps to reduce blood pressure and promote body awareness, stress awareness, and relaxation. Focus on yourself, tune into yourself, and observe any bodily sensations without judgment.
Enhance your own meditation by locating a training group or teacher near you to teach you more meditation practices and how to focus and channel your thinking in the most beneficial way.
Develop good habits by practicing your meditation for a few minutes per day, and your body will benefit from reduced feelings of stress and anxiety, you will have more clarity and focus, and will be living your best life!
How do you manage your thoughts when meditating? Leave a comment below and let us know.