If you think meditation is hard, you’re right, it is. Your brain is in training.
This weekend during my Yoga Nidra facilitator training a discussion came up about meditation that caused a lightbulb to go on in my head. There are many different ways to meditate and many different forms that people choose to fit them. Sitting meditation where you focus on one spot, or the breath, to “quiet the mind” is a myth. I use the quotation marks because that is how I used to think of it, and how many people think of it.
What I took away from the discussion is that sitting meditation of that type is very active. Your brain is active, and you continually notice your random thoughts and come back to your point of focus. You are not trying to stop or quiet your thoughts (the brain is meant to think), you are trying to come back from your thoughts, to stillness. Over time your thoughts will stop competing for your attention (your brain gets trained) and a by-product is that your mind gets quiet. Or at least more quiet.
It was said, in essence, that the best meditation practice is not one in which your mind is the most quiet for the longest time. The best meditation practice is how many times you come back to the focus point after noticing your thoughts creeping in.
Does it get easier? Yes, and no. What does “easier” mean to you? Probably that you get to that sense of peace and quiet more quickly, with less rogue thoughts interfering for the duration. Again, I point you to the paragraph above. It’s not about the peace and quiet although that is the end benefit. So, I’m not viewing it in terms of ease anymore. It is what it is. The more I “struggle” with it or against it (my thoughts) the more training my brain is getting. Just like at the gym. It’s not about the process of lifting the weights…it’s about what happens after the weights have been lifted and you’re out of the gym.
Today was one of those really thought-y days. I stopped meditating early because this blog post kept wanting to write itself in my head. The good news is, even if you’re having an overly think-y day in your practice, or “struggling,” you’re still getting the benefit of the training.
So struggle is also good. But big deal, you may say, how does that help me? I can’t speak for you but it put things into a different perspective that gave me “permission” to be ok not being perfect. It actually made me feel good about not being perfect. And good thing because perfection is never achieved…best to let go of that.
Also, the more you do it, the more your brain gets trained to do this for the short time you’re in your meditation, the more it overflows into your life outside of your practice. If you are training your brain in this way, to not hook on and go deeper into your thoughts, you will find the same happening during your day. You won’t get sucked into drama, you won’t be lured into an argument, you’ll notice that things that used to annoy you will glide right on by. Your brain has learned that thoughts can come, and thoughts can go…you don’t have to latch on to every single one.