But My Mind Is Too Busy to Meditate…
For my first blog post on this site, I want to address one of the biggest misconceptions about meditation. It’s the idea that when we meditate, we have to stop our mind/brain/thoughts. This is a huge barrier to meditation for many. And it’s false. Utterly wrong. As wrong as the the Star Wars prequels. (It is going to become increasingly obvious in these posts that I am a huge nerd…might as well give it up right off the bat.)
Meditation is not going to stop your mind. In fact, the only things that are really going to stop your mind are death, a coma, some futuristic cryogenic freezing process, and, perhaps really, really good chocolate. (Or maybe that’s just me.)
The point is that if I go into my meditation thinking that I have to stop my mind, I’m inevitably going to fail. And then I’ll just be disappointed that I couldn’t do what I thought I was supposed to do.
So, once again for those in the cheap seats: mindfulness meditation is not trying to stop your mind. It’s not trying to stop your body, your thoughts, your emotions, your sensations, or anything else that is a natural part of you.
So, what is the point? The point is not to stop your thoughts but to see them as they really are. To be able to just watch your thoughts/your mind with compassion, acceptance, and a bit of light-heartedness. So your mindfulness meditation session might involve sitting and watching your mind and being intensely aware and interested at how fast your mind moves.
We do try to calm the mind and the body in order to help ourselves see clearly. But if you can’t sit still, you can still meditate. If you can’t calm your mind, you can still meditate.
The key to mindfulness meditation is simply seeing what’s there. Just as it is.
That’s why this practice is so beautiful. Because it tells each of us that we are ok just as we are. We don’t have to become perfect, peaceful, or anything different in order to meditate (which seems a bit like waiting to get in shape in order to start exercising). Jon Kabat-Zinn, the ostensible founder of the modern mindfulness movement writes in Full Catastrophe Living: “As long as you are breathing, there is more right with you than wrong with you.” Every time I speak, hear, or read this line, it makes me pause. How often is this the message we give ourselves? What a beautiful opportunity to look at who we are in a totally different way.