I just opened my eyes from a 15 minute meditation session and holy shit, my mind feels like an ultimate mess today. In the words that follow, I’m going to bring you into my mind so you can understand what I mean by “mess” and how I practice cleaning it up.
I’ve been meditating for 10 years now and guiding others to breathe and notice their bodies for about 8 of those. While I can’t possibly imagine what my life would look like without some form of contemplative practice, at times, I find the tasks incredibly difficult.
I’m writing this today for those of you that say you’re “bad” at meditation. I have countless clients that express to me that they’re not good at meditation and that they, “can’t do it right.” That their mind is just racing and that they can barely sit still.
What I’m here to tell you is: THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT.
Most of us have a misperception that when we meditate we should immediately be sitting effortlessly in thought-free bliss, and if we’re not, we must be doing “it” wrong.
So what’s the point?
The point of meditation, in the beginning, is to begin noticing what the mind is like when we pay attention to it. If it’s at peace, let it be at peace. If it’s busy, notice it, let it be busy. The act of placing your attention on the mind itself, but not interacting with it, initiates a self-soothing mechanism where the mind naturally settles, like a muddy lake that is no longer is being stirred up.
Of course, once the mind becomes still and clear you think, “WOW! There it is!”, and the lake gets stirred up again (aka you got lost in thought). Meditation is the process of noticing when you get lost. Noticing when we’re away from our body drifting into thoughts about our cousin that we haven’t spoken to in a year.
Here’s how to do it right
When your thoughts are drifting, you’re doing it right. When you’re struggling to sit still, you’re doing it right. Meditation is the practice of noticing. This noticing is practice for every other moment in your life.
If you want to be free, you must notice.
Notice the moment, and come into it. There is no other place that is free. Just this -what’s happening right here and right now.
When we meditate… even if it’s like the shitshow I am about to describe to you, we practice the art of noticing. And when we notice, we can exhale into the moment. We can then work with the thoughts, speak to them, and eventually, look directly at them until they dissolve like a wispy cloud in the open sky. But first, we must notice. We must recognize and observe the mind.
Let’s get back to todays’ morning meditation…
I sat down without expectation. Honestly, I’ve been traveling so much, moving, engaging with life’s dramas, and allowing more chaos than normal to enter my sphere. Today was the day to get back to binness (intentional misspelling).
Ding! says my Insight Timer app. Meditation begins.
Here’s what went down during the course of my time sitting erectly on my cushion in lotus pose by my dad’s pool (imagine that I am reading this to you and my voice is on fast forward. That’s how quickly all of this is happening):
-Thoughts invade my awareness that have been there for damn near 5 months. “What could I have done differently? Ef it! I expressed myself how I needed to. I wonder what this person is thinking of me? OMG Lauren, they have their own life… they’re not thinking about you. Remember what you teach. Huh. Interesting.”
-Noticed thoughts. Smiled about how quickly they showed up. Immediately thought I needed to write about it.
-Alright, whew. Let’s clear out with some breathing.
-Proceeds to Dzogchen breathing technique. “Shit! Am I doing this right?” I can’t remember if it’s in through the right nostril, out through the left, or the other way around. Oh yeah! I’m supposed to be doing a light and dark visualization too.”
-Let that go.
-Had a moment of peaceful calm lake water stillness, and then had a swarm of thoughts about if I’m doing enough in my business. This was brief because I noticed these thoughts and then thought about techniques I know to come back into my body.
-Luckily for me, I know about a million ways to bring my attention back to this moment, so I began incorporating Internal Family Systems (IFS) method on myself from the No Bad Parts book I’m reading.
-That worked a bit as I looked into my thoughts and asked them what they needed and gave them some love.
-Next, more thoughts came up, so I decided to abandon attention on my skull and bring my awareness to my lower dan tian. This is a Taoist practice to awaken the energy that lies dormant four finger tips below the navel and slightly in front of the spine. (If you’re interested more in this, DM my fiance, Shane.)
-I then went for mantra repetition: I love you, I love you, I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.
-Ahhhh moment of peace, calm, awareness of my being.
-Back to creating a mental list of things I wanted to write today.
Ding! 15 minutes is up.
GOD Bless IT!
*Takes a bow*
Okay thank you for coming along for that ride. I want to note that this is not my experience every day. Some days I say the word “Om” and it feels like I’m channeling angels and I’m in an in-between consciousness realm for 15 minutes. Sometimes I meditate for 30 min to an hour, and lots of those initial 15-minute thoughts release their chokehold on me a bit. I learn each day. Each day that I sit.
The bottom line is that meditation can feel like bullshit and like it’s “not working”, and sometimes, the sessions are (or we perceive them to be), and that’s the whole entire point. The point is to notice how chaotic your inner world is, and come back to a central focus again and again and again until finally, the small parentheses between thoughts become wider and wider, and you integrate this spacious way of being into your entire life, and ultimately realize that there was never a “you” to be experiencing chaos in the first place 😉
I love you.
I offer 1:1 transformational coaching containers for those who want to uncover their own magnificence. I invite you to apply now if that calls you.
I hope this was helpful. If it was, let me know!