Too Many Thoughts
By eliz_carpenter on June 30, 2014
“The mind is a phenomenal servant
and a horrible task master.”
If your mind seems to have a mind of it’s own, then which end of this saying are you on?
Meditation is the hot thing now, even though it’s been a performance optimizer and success strategy for thousands of years. Fortune 100 CEO’s are hiring meditation coaches now, and that’s putting it back on the map, along with the yoga explosion.
Anyone can meditate and anyone can reap the benefits. But the most common objection I hear when suggesting it to patients is that they can’t meditate because they think too much. And that always makes me smile because, actually, that would be the point and the purpose of meditation.
We meditate precisely BECAUSE our minds are out of control. Yet the more we do it, the more it yields. We become smarter, more intuitive, with better memories; we become better decision makers; we’re less reactive; we slow down brain aging, reduce our risk for dementias, relieve our stress. In short, we build better brains.
BUT, if our minds are in overdrive, how can we possibly meditate?
Say you decide to climb Everest, but you’re a couch potato. Your first step would not be to fly there and start the climb. Your first step would be to do something like climbing the 2 flights of stairs instead of taking the elevator.
Yet when it comes to meditation, there’s this notion that with no preface, no training, no lead up, you’ll sit cross-legged on the floor for an hour chanting OM, with a mind free of thoughts. That’s an Everest meditation!
The newbie should begin with something equivalent to the couch potato taking the stairs. And p.s.: Any advanced meditator will tell you thoughts come all the time during meditation….often important breakthrough ones, distracting boring ones, dramatic fantasy ones. It’s how you deal with them that counts.
I suggest starting with this exercise.
This is very simple, so don’t be confused. There’s no trick involved.
1-2 Minute Newbie Starter Meditation Practice:
Just take deeper than normal, slower than normal breaths in and out of the heart area. Fold your hands right over the heart to help you feel the area you’re breathing in and out of. Make the inhale and the exhale the same length. About 5 seconds in and 5 seconds out. And during this slow, even, deep breathing in and out of the heart area, actively put your attention on the sensation.
OK, you just meditated for 2 minutes.
How do you feel? Lighter? Calmer? Odd? Same?
The breath is a lever on your mind. You are always breathing. Therefore, you always have the option to exert leverage on what your mind is saying, doing, and proposing to you.
If you don’t believe you have the time to do this mini-meditation once or twice every day, then consider this ancient advice on the paradox of meditation practice: