An Easy Guide to Handling Thoughts During Meditations
Easier said than done...don’t we all know this saying? Well, it applies to meditation as well. It seems so simple to just focus on your breathing, while releasing the thoughts arising, but it is incredibly hard to do so. Our brain isn’t a machine that comes with a power button. You can’t just switch it on and off. So, if you are asking yourself: “What should I do with these thoughts?” - there is a solution. Before you meditate
Just picture this: we run around all day, letting our brain and thoughts go wild. Think of it as a bird that’s natural instinct is to fly. If you try to control this bird and tell it not to fly from one minute to another, all the bird will do is go crazy. The same goes for us when we enter a meditation. If you come home from a long day working and all you do is pile up cushions on the floor and sit down to give yourself 15 minutes of meditation, your mind won’t have the ability to slow down. It is like your body is running at 30 mph, while your brain is still speeding at 200 mph. So in order to slam those brakes, you need to gently step off the gas. This is what you can do:
Have a cup of tea
Take a shower
Change your clothes
Read a couple of pages
Take a walk
Go for a bike ride
Everything that gives you time to distance yourself from “daily life” or helps to unwind, will do the trick.
These few efforts of unwinding will allow you to slow your brain, shake off the day and get ready for meditating.
One of the most common myths that people fall for, is that you can simply tell your brain to shut up. Your brain is a beautiful, radiant and an active piece of art that doesn’t come with an off switch. It might seem practical, but it just wouldn’t be. Meditation is not about zoning out and becoming a zombie. It is befriending yourself in meditation, using it to transcend your usual experience and, even having powerful realizations.
But let’s be clear: OUR MIND WILL STAY “ON”.
Another common mistake people fall for, is thinking that thoughts are bad and that we should get rid of them - whether positive or negative. And yes, I’m repeating myself, you cannot stop producing thoughts. It is simply a fact. Often when people discover that there is no off switch in their mind and thoughts continue to come they get discouraged and think they are the worst meditator of all time. There have been thousands of years of meditators and I promise you, you are not the worst. Not by a long shot.
Get this, meditation especially in the beginning is not always about getting rid of your thoughts. It is more important to establish a healthier and judgemental relationship with your thoughts. If for example you are following guided meditations the key is to return to your breathing practices repeatedly.
A big thought will pop up and distract you from the breath. It’s your job to gently return your focus once more to feeling the simple flow of the breath as it enters and leaves your body. If it is helpful you could even silently say “thinking” to yourself.
Not to dismiss them or put a label onto them, but to acknowledge them. That way these thoughts are just like clouds passing by and you can return to simply following your breath.
By being so gentle to yourself and your thoughts, it will make it easier to return to your breathing rhythm. And for once throughout an entire day you are just focusing on one thing: breathing.
Being kind to yourself while meditating is key. Next time you feel like you are getting off track repeat after me: It’s totally okay, that I got distracted. Now let’s go back to breathing, love.
I can guarantee you that this will make it easier. The way you acknowledge your thoughts, positive or negative, and how you deal with them, will set the entire tone for your meditation.
“I believe that the inner tone you use with yourself in meditation ends up being the tone you treat yourself with for the rest of your day. If you can use meditation as a time to befriend yourself, to be very kind and sweet to yourself, then you will likely be gentle to yourself for much of the rest of the day”, said Lodro Rinzler.
After you meditated
People often forget that the aftermath is important as well. A lot of my clients meditate and once the time is up, they just go back to going 200 mph.
Please allow yourself to not check your emails, immediately rush to the next meeting or go back to any to-dos.
Instead, stretch, have a glass of water, and let your mind go at whatever speed it is going after meditating.
Don’t worry it will go back to 200 mph soon enough.
The more often you practice the easier it will become to control your thoughts and your brain. With a daily self-loving routine you will notice how step by step you will dive deeper into your meditation and open up to receiving guidance.
To speed up this process I recommend using a guided meditation that focuses on the breath or one certain topic. And before you know it, you will be able to sit in a meditation where your thoughts are stored in a safe place and allow you to open up to inspiration.