“Meditation is not for me...” is a common statement that some people tell me when I mention what I do for a living. I provide meditation sessions, among many other mind, body, and spiritual practices.
“When I’ve tried to meditate, thoughts keep coming to my mind, so it appears that I am not the kind of person that can really meditate.” This is another common belief I hear. After sessions, some of my students may say something like:
“I don’t know what I might be doing wrong. Thoughts seem to keep on showing up over and over again while I’m trying to meditate.”
”Why can’t I concentrate?” they ask. Many others have requested some advice as to how to AVOID thinking while meditating.
Here is the truth, my friends:
Meditation has little to do with the amount of thoughts you have and a lot to do with your willingness for inner peace. Thoughts and mind chatter are normal during the meditation process. We all have them, even ‘enlightened’ people! So relax, take it easy….
Let me tell you a metaphor that came to me about this topic; actually, it came to me while I was meditating! Often, brilliant ideas may come to you during meditation, if you allow it. It may be the solution to a problem, or the answer to something you’ve been searching for! So, in a way, it is good to have some “thoughts.” You just have to allow the deep relaxation and focus on what you want or need from that practice. On that particular day, when I was trying to find a way to better help my students with their recurrent concern, I went into meditative state and, while concentrating in my breathing, a little man with a board appeared in my mind. It looked as those cartoon-type figures showing me an ad. I acknowledged that image and understood the message: “That’s it! Random thoughts are like advertisements that come up while you are watching a program on TV!”
Now, let me ask you: When watching TV, do you pay more attention to the series, movie or program you are viewing, or to the commercials? Most people would say, “I pay more attention to the program and somewhat disregard the advertisements.” Well, that is exactly what meditation is--a program that comes along with commercials. We simply focus more in the program, and pay little or no attention to the ads! The focus of your meditation should be like the focus you keep on the main program you are watching. You immerse yourself in the drama, the sport, the news, or whatever it is that you are watching and sometimes even forget the outer world while doing so. That is what is supposed to happen while meditating. Of course, marketing companies (also known as, your ego) will intend to attract your attention and distract you from your main focus through their commercials (the random thoughts that will show up in the middle of your meditation). Simply know that, eventually, the ads will end and you will be able to resume your program. You do not need fight against the ads because you know that even if you did, they will not go away because you want them to. You cope with the ads, watch them pass by, without attaching to them. This is how, then, you can cope with the mind chatter while meditating.
Before you know it, the program you are watching (the meditation on which you are focusing) comes back to your “screen” (your consciousness). Sure, there are some ads that will attract your attention because they are showing you something you want. (Just as I got caught by the little man showing me the ad.) Yes, there will be some thoughts that would be important to pay attention to--as they are an insight, answer or guidance to what your heart aims to find. This is how this metaphor was discovered, as a reply to what I was trying to teach my students as to how to cope with the mind chatter… while I was meditating!
It is true that one of the purposes of meditation is to reduce the amount of thoughts that cross our minds. However, struggling against them will not help. Accepting and allowing what is, will. In time, your ego will relax, too, and you will be able to watch an “almost-ad-free” program! As an added bonus, as a treat to your persistence, you will receive the real benefits of meditation: A more centered life, enhanced well-being, better health, and a clearer, more focused mind.
Next time, before starting your meditation simply affirm: “Thoughts during my meditation are easier to dissipate than commercials in my favorite TV show.” You will see how soon your thoughts will stop showing up. So relax, breathe, enjoy!
Yvonne Gonzalez-Baez is a spiritual guide who provides chakra balancing, angel card readings, counseling, meditation sessions, holistic health courses, spiritual writing and spiritual healing. She facilitates one-on-one coaching sessions, group workshops, and retreats to help people with life’s struggles, in order to find a deeper meaning to their experiences. Yvonne’s studies include diverse courses in NLP, depth psychology, and semiology. She also practices yoga, meditation, Gurdjieff’s Sacred Dances, and Tai-Chi.