What do you think of when you hear the word meditation? Is it a ‘still mind’? Thoughtlessness?
You’ve no doubt been told or taught that meditation is all about emptying your mind of thoughts and entering into a deep stillness. You’ve probably seen monks sitting in lotus position, looking very Zen-like. Yet for most people it’s nothing like this - and there is a very good reason why.
No You Are Not A Dud Meditator
No you shouldn’t give up. But understanding more about meditation and debunking some of the myths about it will help.
To start with, let’s get clear about the goal of meditation. It’s perceived by many to be to still the mind. But the next question would be to ask, WHY? Why do we want to still the mind? The motivation for most of the things we do is to improve our life. So how does stilling our mind improve our life?
When the mind is still, the body, being a printout of the mind, drops into a deep state of metabolic rest. For every thought, there is a shift physically and biochemically in the body; sometimes subtle, and sometimes quite extreme. In this deep state of metabolic rest, the body goes into a phase of repair mode. This is when the body upgrades and restores balance. You might have noticed at times, when you are falling asleep at night, that your body might have a spasm or jolt as it releases stresses stored in it. Well, the same thing happens in your body during meditation. As your mind is becoming quieter, your body is also becoming quieter, triggering a stress releasing process.
So Here’s The Interesting Part...
As your body starts unstressing and restoring balance, it becomes activated and stimulated. This new level of activity in the body will pull the mind out of the quiet state and you will find, before long, that the mind is filled with thoughts. Hey, what’s this? One minute I’m in a quiet space, the mind and body in stillness, and the next minute I am thinking, or my body is spasming, jolting, twitching, or I feel like coughing. These are just a few of the many ways the body is releasing stress when it goes into a state of restfulness.
So Here’s The Irony About Meditation...
You start with an intention of quieting the mind to achieve a ‘still state’; yet in doing so, you trigger an activation process of stress release that will stimulate the mind and body and bring you out of the meditative stillness. Due to the fact that our bodies are storing many stresses in them, maintaining stillness during meditation is highly unlikely for long periods of time. So next time you are meditating and notice your mind is busy with thoughts or your body is having strong sensations, simply acknowledge this and effortlessly return back to your meditation.
In the Vedic tradition we say: “Take it as it comes, and as it comes, take it."