Over the years I have learned one thing for sure about meditation, and that is that everyone’s experience is their experience. In other words, never compare your experience with someone else’s. Your experience is as valid as anyone else’s.
Meditation is a form of self love, so watch how critical you can be with yourself, and then praise yourself for sitting down to meditate in the first place. Look at meditation as a new experience, every time you meditate it is the first time.
“I can’t turn off my mind!” I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say they can’t meditate. The most common misconception of meditation is that we are supposed to stop our mind from thinking.
Meditation is not about stopping your mind from thinking. Meditation can take place whether thought is there or not. A state of meditative awareness exists beneath the thinking you experience in the mind, because the mind is always there, which means thought is always there.
The difference between meditation and the waking consciousness is what you give your attention to. Your awareness of thinking is what actually connects you to the meditative state.
To elaborate: when I sit down to meditate I may start by focusing my attention on the flow of my breath for a while in order to calm my body and mind. Naturally thoughts arise; perhaps I become engaged in my thoughts.
Then I realize I had become engaged in my thoughts, and I repeat to myself: “I am here to mediate,” and I ask myself a rhetorical question: “Who is aware that I was thinking?” So I feel the question and the awareness that I was thinking.
Meditation is really about cultivating awareness. Awareness that I am thinking, that I am sitting, that I am breathing. We learn to be aware of all feelings and sensations, like awareness of your feeling something to do with your job or partner or the tingling in your legs when you sit that way.
The most significant awareness is that of “I AM.” The key to cultivating awareness is to lovingly, and gently, (as opposed to forcefully) disengage your mind from judging and engage it with the act of observation and acceptance.
When you notice you have wandered off into thinking about something, then in that very moment of noticing this you have a profound opportunity to deepen your awareness and thus to deepen your experience of meditation.
In that moment the awareness arises, “I was sitting here watching my breath, and then I got caught up in thinking about something. Hey that’s pretty cool!” It’s in this awareness that takes you further into meditation.
Thinking while meditating can be seen as a gift.
Our awareness of our incessant thinking is the very thing that can propel us deeper and deeper into the still centre of our Being.
The next time you sit to meditate, see that session as the first time, you are just beginning every time. This will keep your attention fresh, alive and present to the here and now.
Simply BE here, now.