Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It is a way of entering into the quiet that is already there - buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.
More and more Western Doctors are recommending meditation to improve well-being and relieve stress. There are many approaches to meditation. The key is finding a method that works for you.
“I’m terrible at meditating. My mind is all over the place and I can’t relax.” I’ve heard this many times from people new to meditation. It is normal for your mind to move quickly from thought to thought.
“What many people don’t realize is that the goal isn’t to shut off the mind but rather to listen or observe and not be attached to answering it,” says Robert Lee, M.D., author of “The Super Stress Solution” and Vice Chairwoman of the department of Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center. “This allows you to reflect from a sense of calm rather than react from a sense of fight or flight.”
In Yoga and meditation, focused breathing plays a key role in quieting the mind. The practice is to breath in and out, focusing your attention on your breath. Sooner or later, your mind will be carried away on a thought. Perhaps you are worrying about something, or thinking about what you have to do that day. The key is NOTICING when your mind has wandered off, and celebrate noticing. This is when people berate themselves and say they aren’t any good at meditation. Instead, be happy you NOTICED, and return your attention back to your breath. We have to train ourselves to pay attention and NOTICE when our mind is carried away with a thought. And this is the practice. Over and over again, like training a puppy, we have to train ourselves to observe when our mind gets lost in thought, NOTICE, and return our attention to the breath.
One meditation method that my students often find success with is counting breaths on their fingers in a particular spiral pattern. This is an ancient Indian ritual used for breathing exercises and meditation.
Each time you take a breath in, you place your thumb on the space between the knuckles of a finger, and then exhale. Breath one, is at the base of the index finger, breath two is the middle of the index finger, breath three is the top of the index finger, breath four is the top of the middle finger, breath five is the top of the ring finger, breath six is the top of the pinky, breath seven, is the middle of the pinky, breath eight is the bottom of the pinky, breath nine is the bottom of the ring finger, breath ten is the bottom of the middle finger, breath 11 is the middle of the middle finger and breath twelve is the middle of the ring finger. See the diagram below. Doing so, you take 12 compete breaths. Consider that one round. You can keep track of your rounds with your other hand. When sitting down to meditate, 5 rounds of 12 breaths takes about 10 minutes and 10 rounds takes about 20 minutes.
When practicing this method, don’t worry if you lose count as you go around. Just begin again. Counting your breaths on your hand in this pattern, gives your mind something to focus on. When your mind wanders off, and it will, NOTICE, and return your attention to breathing and counting.
A good way to begin is to practice this hand counting meditation every morning when you wake up. If successful there, you may add it into your day at noontime and/or before bed. Start slowly. Set realistic goals to achieve success.
Next, use this practice when you are in a stressful situation or upset about something. Notice if the practice helps you to calm down. Notice if the practice grounds you. Notice if this practice enhances your overall well-being.
By Jo Kirsch ©2014