Does meditation feel like a kind of torture to you?
Is the act of sitting still to ‘silence’ your thoughts worse than getting a root canal? If your answer is ‘yes!’ then I want to assure you right now: you’re not the only one.
Lots of folks give up meditation before they’ve even really begun for one of 2 reasons: 1) They’re aiming for the wrong goal, and 2) their expectations of ultra-bliss are, let’s say, a tad too high.
If you want successful meditation — a practice that stills the mind (not to dead & continual silence, but to a calm and steadfast place) and soothes the soul — then have a look at these 5 steps.
Step One – Commitment & Frustration
Commitment and frustration are the two words to keep in mind when you first begin your meditation practice. Why? Because you’re more than likely going to experience a whole lotta mental distraction, which feels very frustrating.
This is where many give up even trying to meditate. The antidote is to commit to sitting there anyway. Also, give up on the idea that you’re going to clear your mind of thought, because it isn’t going to happen – not yet, anyway. But, when you commit to sitting anyway, you open the door to, as Eckhart Tolle describes, ‘spaciousness’ of the mind.
Step Two – Become the Watcher
After you’ve spent a few days or weeks dealing with the ‘monkey mind,’ you start to simply watch that neurotic, internal chimp. This watching is a very different thing than the getting ‘hooked’ which happens during step one.
When you begin actually to watch your thoughts, you become more ‘neutral’ about them and about your life! You start to experience a greater sense of serenity and peace within.
Will you still get ‘hooked’ from time to time? Sure, and sometimes more than others. But the more you sit, the less frequent or intense these bouts become.
Step Three – Spaciousness Begins
Pretty soon, this ‘watching’ happens much more often, while the ‘identifying’ becomes less frequent. This watching lets you allow rather than resist your thoughts. And as the ‘allowing’ space within you strengthens, you find more and more ‘space’ in between our thoughts.
At first, it may be as short as the length of a single breath, or just the time in-between breaths. But soon, you’ll find that ‘spaciousness’ becomes the greater part of your meditation experience.
Step Four – Listening to the Silence
The more this ‘spaciousness’ expands in-between your thoughts, the more deeply fulfilling your meditations become. This point is when you start looking forward to your daily sitting. Instead of this time being an exercise in self-discipline, it becomes your personal respite. Silence starts becoming an experience, rather than an impossible abstraction.
Step Five – Inner Contentment
This step is when you stop caring about what happens (or doesn’t happen) during your meditations. You simply allow whatever is happening to happen.
As you observe thoughts from the point of view of ‘the watcher,’ you start finding humor in the silly worries, opinions, and perspectives created by the monkey mind. With this, a deepening sense of bliss emerges within that ever-expanding spaciousness between thoughts.
You start to be Okay with whatever’s going on in your own life, and in the world. You start to feel inner contentment which continues beyond your meditation and right into your everyday life.
Do you meditate? How able are you to be the ‘watcher’ and create space between the thoughts? Leave a comment and let me know!