In an effort to help myself with my ever-present anxiety, I have started meditating. I’m trying to do it every day–that’s the goal. I’m mostly succeeding at that. I’ve missed a couple of days, but not too many. I try to do it first thing in the morning before I get moving and before my brain really starts to do its thing. But, even early in the morning, it’s tough.
I’m a thinker.
No, not that kind of a thinker. I’d never sit around naked on a rock and think. But, I do think about a lot of things all the time! They’re not all bad or negative things. A lot of the time I’m thinking about good things: ideas for writing, ideas for teaching, music (I have this little orchestra and choir that lives in my brain). So, not all of my thoughts are negative.
It’s not the manner or tone of my thoughts that plagues me while trying to meditate, though. It’s just the sheer volume of them, and the speed at which they come to me. Often I can’t keep up myself. If I get an idea that’s worthy of exploration, I need to stop what I’m doing and write it down. Otherwise…it’s gone and there comes a new one!
But, that is counterproductive when attempting to meditate. The goal of meditation is to center oneself, to focus, to breathe, to relax. The goal is to clear one’s mind of thoughts, and to just be in the moment.
Or so I thought…
My niece, who’s been meditating for much longer than me, posted an interesting thought on her Instagram story the other day. I’m not quoting directly, but in essence she said not to be concerned at not being able to completely clear the mind of thoughts. Rather, to let those thoughts come and then go. And, she’s not alone in that sentiment.
In a post entitled “Meditation isn’t about suppressing your thoughts and emotions,” JD Andre writes:
When you meditate, you strengthen awareness of everything that appears in consciousness: thoughts, emotions, urges, sensations, etc. You develop the skill of noticing it all without getting caught up in it (without indulging it).
On the other hand, suppress is defined as “forcibly put an end to; prevent.” Meditation is the opposite of that definition — when you meditate, you aren’t trying to forcibly end or prevent anything. To the contrary, you accept it all non-judgmentally.
Put another way, meditation is embracing whatever is happening in the present moment. The distinction is that meditating isn’t wallowing in thoughts and emotions. Nor is it dwelling on — or analyzing — them.
Well, that’s a relief! No, seriously, that’s a REAL RELIEF!!
It’s good to know that I don’t have to get caught up in this idea that in order to achieve successful meditation I have to clear my mind of all thoughts. Honestly, I don’t even know how I would go about doing that. I don’t know how anyone would go about doing that. Is it even healthy to try?
And, so I’ll take my 12 minutes a day (don’t ask why 12…it’s just the number that came to me) and I will close my eyes, relax my entire body, focus on the present moment, breathe deeply and slowly, and I will let whatever thoughts come to me come. And I won’t worry about them. And I won’t stress over them. And I won’t consider myself a failure because I couldn’t get rid of them.
Man, oh man….this making myself a better person isn’t easy!
My question to you is this: do you meditate regularly? If so, what do you do? Do you struggle with racing thoughts like I do? I’m really curious to know. Please comment below and talk to me about your experiences.