Saying you can’t meditate because your mind is too busy is like saying you can’t work out because you’re too out of shape. It makes no sense, but is often the number one excuse a new student gives a meditation teacher.
If you’ve got goals for your physical health and fitness, it is inevitable that, at some point, they will also include inspiring, attainable, and manageable goals around your mental and emotional health. Yet often the same distractions and sabotage patterns (that same little voice inside that criticizes and judges) keep us from sitting quietly to take a good look at our thoughts, to feel what we feel, and to simply just be.
There will be many good reasons to not want to start a sitting practice of mindfulness. It’s boring, unproductive, uncomfortable, too loud inside the mind – those are all common complaints. What is important when starting a regular meditation practice is to first figure out what you want. What do you really want to feel and experience in your life right now? Greater clarity on your life’s path, more ease in your relationships, more self-acceptance, maintaining a more even emotional state? These are examples of a few good ‘wants’ that practicing being present can help you with. When the benefits and the experience of meditation practice are greater than the discomfort actually doing it, then you will have a better chance at committing.
Improved ability to respond to stress
Lower blood pressure
Lower anxiety and depression
Improved immune system function
Choosing more healthful thoughts
Better management of strong emotions
Increased energy levels and focus
More restful sleep
Heightened intuition and decision-making powers
The practice of presence is learning to be okay with whatever thoughts or emotions arise, learning to meet these with less judgment and gradually growing comfortable simply observing what is occurring. The more time someone commits to being present to what is and allowing what is to simply be without needing to change it, the greater amount of resilience and true choice will open to them, and improves their ability to adapt, learn, grow and change with life.
Begin by dedicating three to five minutes a few mornings a week when you first wake to simply sitting. Set a timer.
Close your eyes, observe your breath and observe your mind/thoughts without judgment. When they arise, let them; when the thoughts drift, let them.
Each time your mind pulls/moves/distracts, feel the breath fully. Feeling the breath you’re currently on, fully, will always bring you back into being present.
When you feel yourself in presence, or being very attentive momentarily, observe the silence. Know that this will change, and when it does, repeat the above again.
End this exercise with 30 seconds of gratitude.
And when you’re ready to discover more, head to Meditations & Podcasts in the Explore section of Centr – where you’ll find meditations to guide you through many different scenarios.
Ally Bogard is co-creator of SoundMind, a program combining sound therapy with meditation, breathing and visualization to help users attain optimal health, well-being and connection. Raised in Canada and based in New York, she leads yoga and meditation classes, retreats, provides counsel and trains yoga teachers. Ally will help you realize you’re never too busy to meditate.
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