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I'll give you two descriptions...
“I Can’t Meditate”
Let me give you two descriptions. One of them is meditation, the other is what people often think meditation is. Ready?
“Sitting down and clearing your mind, focusing on your breath and having absolutely no thoughts for an hour”
“Sitting down and being alone, but then constantly getting distracted by thoughts that come to mind and constantly fidgeting around”
So… which one is which? Well, maybe this isn’t a big realization for some, but #1 is what people believe meditation is- or at least the main thing I hear when people who say they can’t meditate explain why. #2 is the reality of it. Meditation is all about learning how to be alone with nothing but our thoughts.
I’ve got a great starting exercise for you below to demonstrate the point I wanted to make in today’s issue, but first I want to try and help you understand the idea of meditation. In an ideal world, we would be able to sit down and immediately clear our mind. Itch on our leg? Never existed. Did I submit my paper on time? Don’t worry about it. Wait did I really say “you too” when the waitress said “enjoy”? Never happened.
Thing is, meditation isn’t about having a totally clear mind, it’s about working to get there. Working, but never quite succeeding (and if you do succeed, please let me know how enlightenment is). As we meditate, it is simply resisting distractions and allowing these thoughts to come and go.
The thoughts come up and meditation shows us that we have a choice: we deal with the thought, or put it aside for later.
Let’s Do It
One way to show this concept is by some social media notification. A text comes in or an Instagram notification pops up… but what if you didn’t check it right away? That’s the idea behind meditation, but the notifications here are our thoughts. So, do this.
Take out your phone or some device you use that might distract you a lot.
Set a timer for ONE minute. Just 60 seconds- what possible excuse do you have not to?
Sit down comfortably, in a chair or on the floor (whatever’s comfortable), and put your phone in front of you.
Hit start on the timer and just stare at whatever is in front of you.
For one minute, just look at a wall or whatever is in front of you and just see what comes to mind. Don’t try and shut down the thoughts. Don’t try and just focus on your breath. Simply observe what comes up.
How many times did you wonder “maybe the timer won’t go off, I should check the time” or “man this feels like years” or “huh, I wonder if my sister ever got that book I sent her 3 weeks ago”? What kind of thoughts emerge?
What sort of answers find their way to the surface in the silence?
You’ve essentially meditated. Meditation is just sitting on the floor and being alone with yourself with the extra step of focusing on putting these thoughts aside momentarily. The timer will go off eventually. The text message will be there when you check your phone after this one minute. Check in with your sister after your session.
Give it a go and, with just one minute a day, you’ll be surprised at how much you can learn about yourself. With all the distractions vying for out attention these days, it’s nice to give ourselves some real deep-digging me time. And hey, no harm in guided meditations!
Thanks For Reading
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this newsletter, please do pass it along to your friends and family. Group meditations can really be something else… but that aside, hope you got something from it.
Have a fantastic week!