I’ve said before and I would like to reiterate: meditation isn’t complicated–far from it. One of the most common things I hear when people tell me they are thinking of giving it a try, or those who have tried and “failed”, is that they “can’t do it” or that their thoughts won’t stop.
Having been new to the practice not too long ago myself, I understand why people have this perspective. Many people expect meditation to help you stop thinking or that it will work immediately. When people feel they won’t get very far because their brain won’t let them, they are falling into a trap that, ironically, meditation will help them out of.
Often, our minds are obscured by continuous thought, so much so that we miss much of what is occurring right in front of us by dreaming of the future or worrying about our past. We become attached to thought processes and create a mental image of ourselves. An example is a thought telling you you can’t meditate. You start to believe things about yourself that might not be true.
Meditation helps you see clearly. When you observe your thoughts and feelings, you become aware that you are not the same as them, that you are not the thinker of the thoughts, but the witness of them. So the thought “I am thinking too much” is just another thought.
We pay too much attention to thoughts. Have you ever had a thought that was so ludicrous, so unrealistic, that you laughed it off immediately? This is what you can begin to do with a practice of meditation, by seeing that thoughts and feelings come and go and you are unchanged, as the witness of them. In other words, they stop “sticking”.
If you understand you are the witness–how much effort do you need to make to meditate? Commonsense in today’s world is that everything worthwhile takes an effort to achieve. However, meditation is quite the opposite. Simply; observe. And yes, you might get tangled up in thought every now and again but that is okay. Only thought will tell you it’s not:”I’m not doing it right”, “I can’t do this” etc. Ask yourself why you believe these thoughts and not other ones.
If you are meditating and find yourself caught up in thought, simply acknowledge and return to focusing on your breath, or mantra or whatever you are focusing on. You will not become the Dalai Lama overnight. You won’t stop your thinking altogether either, but it will not have the power over you that it does now. As time goes on, thoughts will become less sticky; you will notice them and let them go.
When you let thoughts come and go like passing clouds, your mind will be less frantic and the closer you will move to peace.