How To Sit and Start to Calm
Have you been trying to meditate and found your mind is wandering all around, and this has caused you to form the opinion, “I can’t meditate”?
On the other hand, you might be completely new to meditation and have formed the opinion “I’m too all over the place to meditate; what if I can't-do it?”
By the way, if you are a complete beginner, check out either Learn on my website or take a look at these blogs.
Essentials of Mindfulness Meditation Part 1: The Breath
Essentials of Mindfulness Meditation Part 2: The Body Scan
Whether you are a beginner or a veteran to mindfulness meditation, I hope the following blog will give you some practical tips on how to sit and start to calm your mind.
Seeing through formed views
Well, formed views, such as I can’t meditate or I’m too all over the place, have come about because they are based on previous experiences. On the surface, it seems reasonable that we construct an opinion on what we can or can't-do based on past exposure.
If your mind has been unsettled in the past, the view that it will continue this way can be formed; the view that meditation will be difficult may also be formed.
In this blog, I’m going to ask you to start to let go of your past experiences and be open to new ones: particularly those that involve the fact that the mind, or at least your attitude towards it, can settle and calm if you go about meditation the right way.
Recognising the wandering mind
Firstly, we need to acknowledge a simple natural law of the mind: it has the nature to wander. Being able to accept this is key to being able to allow the mind to settle out into ease.
So let's try an exercise: listen to this guided meditation...
How did you do?
If you found your mind was roaming all over the place, then that is a good start, and I'm not just saying this to be nice - it really is! To notice and accept the wandering mind is neither adding to nor is it suppressing its nature.
Using the body to calm the mind
The skill then is to come back to something quieter, less analytical, and the body is perfect for this.
If you give energy to whatever it is you are chewing over in your mind, it will continue because you are giving the thought-string momentum. However, if you come to say: the sensation of your body sitting or the effects of the breath around your chest - you are directing your energy elsewhere.
The trick here is not to use the sensations of the body as a “suppression” of thoughts and the drifting mind. That gives wandering thoughts energy via the back door.
Stay with the breath, mustn't think. STAY with the breath, mustn't think. STAAAAY..... Think, think, THINK - STOOOOOP!!!
This isn't a very relaxed approach and is stirring the body-mind complex up somewhat.
Now I've heard many people say meditation is work, “You have work to do there!” Admittedly I took this approach for a long time and learnt from experience that it is not a healthy way to go treating meditation like it is training for a marathon!
On the other hand, a balanced gentle effort is a healthy approach to take.
Stay with breath, notice the mind has wandered. Come to the body sitting, gently know your posture. Notice the mind has wandered again; notice you got lost in thought.
Come back to the breath; stay with the breath. Be gentle, know your body.... notice a difficult feeling, that's ok, come back to the breath and so on: go with the flow...
Try for yourself
Try the guided meditation above again over the next few days or so taking a gentle, easy approach to it. See how you get on. Don't go in expecting a result, just do it and that is enough.
You may then find your mind calms all by itself without too much effort. Let me know how you get on as I'd love to hear from you.
Also as a piece of further reflection and to help you find the right balance (just in case you get a little too slack and end up nodding off to sleep) have a look at What Type of Meditator Are You?
Lastly here are links to the other postures in the series:
1. How to Stand and Be More Present
2. How to Walk and Better Settle Thoughts
3. How to Sit and Start to Calm
4. How to Lie Down and Begin to Relax