Whenever I ask someone if they meditate, a very common response is, “Oh I’ve tried that, but I can’t do it” or “I’m not good at it.”
That is because the common idea about meditation is that the goal is to quiet the mind (left brain) and when people are not able to quiet the mind they feel very frustrated and give up.
The goal of meditation is NOT to quiet the mind!!! The goal of meditation is to train the mind to focus. A quiet mind is something that will eventually happen all by itself without even trying, it is a byproduct of the meditation, but it cannot be the goal. That would be like telling yourself not to blink, or not to swallow. Telling yourself not to think is impossible. You will never be successful if that is your goal.
The mind (left brain) is like an unruly child that has never had any discipline. In meditation we have to distract it and give it a task to do. And…hear this…you will NOT be able to stay on task, especially at first. No one can, because the mind is not trained to do that. After only just a short while the mind will go running off, thinking about something it forgot to do yesterday or worrying about something that might happen tomorrow……and you might be out there for 5 minutes before you realize you are not doing the task. It does not matter! You just bring yourself back to the task and start over, again, and again, and again. It does not matter if you have to start over 100 times in 20 minutes. Just do it and you will get better at it …. and it will change your life.
A simple task I start people out with is counting the breaths. Count 4 breaths and then start over and count 3 breaths, start over and count 2 breaths, then one. Then start all over again with 4.
Also, meditation does not need to be done while sitting or lying down with our eyes closed. We can meditate while washing dishes, or driving a car, or taking the dog for a walk….the key is to be in the present moment. If you are walking the dog, notice the temperature of the air, is there a breeze? Is there a smell in the air? Notice the shrubs and trees and clouds and birds and cars going by, etc….Again, you probably won’t be able to focus for long before the mind runs off but that’s ok. Just bring it back again and again…..we are training the mind to focus! 15 or 20 minutes a day is fine. That sound like it should be easy to do but you will find it to be very difficult. The mind will find every excuse in the book to keep you from doing this because it does not want to lose control. It likes running the show. The mind, (left brain) takes over in early childhood and it is not a bad thing, it is part of our protective mechanism, it helps us survive childhood. But at some point in everyone’s life, the left brain being in charge no longer serves us and can drive us quite insane. Meditation can assist to bring the left brain back to its proper place, as a tool, a servant, a resource center, to call on it when we need it. We could not survive in this 3rd dimension on this planet Earth without it but if it is running the show, we are in trouble. So it will thwart your every effort to get it under control. But just make the commitment and discipline to do it and it will change your life!