15 Jun Meditation Doesn’t Stop When You Think It Does – It Stops When You Think
Quick! The kids are off doing their thing or already asleep and the other half is absorbed in either Netflixing it up, updating their profile on something, browsing on Amazon, or perhaps firing off the last few emails of the night. You take a few minutes to yourself and head to your special place, you spread a mat or a comfy cushion on the floor, or perhaps settle into your favourite chair, maybe even wrap yourself in your cosy blanket and sit up in bed. Done with the madness of the day, ahhh, you exhale and sink a little deeper into your body. Now is your time to be mindful and meditate.
But you’re exhausted after another crazy day of work, family and household stuff, and after being aware of your breath coming in and going out barely twice, your dull mind, devoid of any focus is off down a trail of thoughts that either prick you to the point of frustration at some painful memory making you wonder why you bother to try and meditate anyway. Or you simply drift off into a stupor until a little dribble from your open mouth and a jolt of your head bring you back. Either way, you weren’t meditating really, so what’s the point? You tried doing it in the mornings, but it’s hard to find ample time with the morning rush and you have so many things to get round to doing. You’re not a monk living in a monastery; you have a million responsibilities, you can’t still your mind when you have so much to do. How are you supposed to get anywhere with your meditation practice?
The answer lies in understanding that meditation doesn’t stop when you think it does – it stops when you think.
Have I confused you?
You see, most people think that they are meditating only when they are sitting in a still posture. They think the meditation has ended once the timer has gone off and they get up. The truth is that any time you’re not thinking and you are just aware, you are in meditation, it’s just the level of the meditative state that varies. You could be cleaning, walking, bathing, eating, anything. If you can maintain a certain level of mindfulness and stop thinking, you are in meditation; it only stops when you start thinking again. Get it now? ☺
Meditation by itself is hard – like really hard. The key to making it much easier is to carry a sense of awareness with you throughout the day so that when you do sit to meditate, the awareness comes to you naturally.
- It’s important to keep your sessions short and sharp.
- Try doing several short sessions of just a few minutes during the course of the day rather than a long session in one go.
- Use a guided meditation or a short sample of music to help you focus.
- Only attempt to sit in meditation when you’re feeling fresh and alert, unless it’s in bed right before you sleep, then it’s a good way to send you off to sleep.
- If you can wake up 10 minutes earlier than usual and meditate first thing in the morning, it’s a great way to get your mind in gear to be mindful throughout the day. You don’t need to sit for an hour and worry about everything you need to get done that day. Even meditating with crisp focus for just 10 minutes in the morning plus being mindful throughout the day can be life changing. I speak from experience.
- And the most important point: The second you ‘finish’ your meditation, before you even open your eyes, take note of how you feel, take in all the sounds around you, notice any sensations in your hands and body, and ask yourself what you’re thinking in that moment. When you do this, you’ll find yourself in the present moment. Now take this awareness with you throughout the day. Be aware of every thought, every breath, every movement as you get up from your posture as you walk into your next activity, whatever it might be.
Now the hard work starts – to remember to be mindful throughout the day, not just when you sit for your next meditation. While bathing, walking, cleaning, working, eating, and even while interacting with others (mindfulness makes you a great listener), can you try and be aware? Can you try and maintain a meditative state where you keep dropping any thoughts that enter your mind, and come back to being aware of your task at hand?
In the beginning, you will of course forget to do this and will perhaps remember only once or twice a day on the first day, and that’s completely normal. As you do it more often, you’ll remember a few times a day, then a few times an hour, until you’re actively practicing mindfulness every single second of the day. To speed up the process, a great way to remind yourself throughout the day is to set notifications on your phone, say perhaps at hourly intervals, or try a meditation and mindfulness app like Black Lotus.
Black Lotus gives mindful nudges throughout the day to do mindful activities along with short sessions of guided or music meditations. Your Black Lotus mindful activities for the day could be acts of kindness, reading a few minutes of daily wisdom, clearing clutter, mindful walking, observing your surroundings, or even mindfully enjoying a piece of chocolate so it tastes even more amazing (now who doesn’t want that ☺).
So, if you’re having trouble meditating, remember, it doesn’t stop when you think it does, it only stops when you think. Try building on your mindfulness first with an app such as Black Lotus, and then gradually build upon your meditation practice. You’ll see the difference and wonder how you ever did it any other way!
I wish you happy meditation sessions and even happier, mindful days!
~Sushree Diya Om