One of the biggest mistakes people make with meditation is trying too hard. The language often used to teach meditation doesn’t help – “concentrate on your breath”, “watch your mind” – it reminds us of forcing ourselves not to daydream in order to pay attention to a boring lesson at school.
Mistakenly, we think we are being asked to bear down on our brain like a vice and force distractions out of the way. We attempt to obliterate stray thoughts and feel like we are failing when a constant stream of insistent nonsense cavalcades through our mind. But this is not meditation; it is merely a recipe for a headache.
I prefer a much gentler, inclusive approach. Rather than feeling like I have to squeeze thoughts or daydreams out of my mind, I spend some time just relaxing and being interested in what is going on. Instead of clamping down and excluding unruly thoughts, I expand my awareness until it is so huge I comfortably include every thought, feeling and sensation I am having. Then I discover that everything is just fine the way it is or isn’t, and I don’t have to do anything. Phew, what a relief!
This is why the meditations I guide usually begin with a period of relaxing and noticing. Once we have become comfortable and relaxed and have a basic sense of the rhythm of our breath, we gradually include every aspect of our experience into our awareness and into the vast space of our breath. Then we can take our whole being on the meditation journey without any wayward rebel parts of ourselves digging their heels in.
To include our whole being like this, we start by noticing everything we can hear and smell and taste and touch and how this makes us feel. Then we notice what our mind is up to, and gently invite our mind to have a pause from all that thinking for a while. (Our mind probably hadn’t even registered that having a pause was an option before.) Finally, we tune in to our emotional mood via our heart and include that too – even if it is not a happy mood, even if we don’t want to meditate. And all of that thinking, feeling, sensing and knowing is now included in the breath, included in the growing space of our overall awareness, included in our whole deep being.
Maggie Kay is an inspirational coach and founder of Thrivecraft. Formerly an ordained Buddhist, she specialises in spiritual intelligence for business, and manifesting ideal soul mate love relationships. Maggie trains accredited life coaches and meditation teachers and runs programmes from her country retreat in Cornwall, UK. Diving for Pearls is her first book.
Diving for Pearls is published by O Books, ISBN: 978-1-78099-865-7 (Paperback) £11.99 $18.95.
You may find her book at: www.o-books.com
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