Finding Silence in MeditationTechniques ·
Many people say meditation doesn’t work for them. When I enquire about their meditation practice it often appears that a misunderstanding exists about the nature of the mind, thinking and how to meditate. I’ve written this article to help shed light on dealing with your mind in meditation.
To control the mind is to herd cats on a hot tin roof. It’s never going to work. The more you try with the mind to stop the mind thinking, the more it comes back at you. Before you know it, your mind has thought a hundred thoughts and it is time to finish your meditation. You have not even meditated.
A story from ancient days tells of a young guy who goes to a guru and says that he wants to be enlightened. “That’s good” says the Guru. “Just go and sit under that tree and meditate. Don’t think about the monkeys.” After several hours, the guy comes back to the Guru and says: “Guru, all I could think about was the monkey. There were not even any monkeys in the tree. It was all in my mind. What do I have to do to get enlightened?”
If thoughts are like spray from a waterfall, then as a meditator we don’t want to fight the thoughts. Instead, we focus on our meditation device - the breath, a mantra, a chakra or some other meditation focal point.
As we observe, our mind may take us away from our device. Gently we bring ourselves back to our device. No fighting. No force. Just gently insisting as we bring our mind back to the device.
In fact it’s quite like correcting the behaviour of a pet. No scolding oneself, no harshness needed. Just patience and love for yourself embarking on the greatest of human adventures - an adventure of consciousness.
The more we keep bringing ourselves back to our meditation device, the more our mind is gently disciplined and becomes quieter. It lets go as if a right relationship is being established. Pet and master. Master and servant.
Indeed, it is like sharpening a knife. Every time you bring your mind back to the device, the more you sharpen the blade that cuts through the endless thoughts and the mind becomes sharper, clearer. And with just a little time and perseverance, the mind surrenders. It becomes disciplined. It is there to serve.
Eventually it becomes an instrument bringing clarity. A silent mind. A calm mind. A still mind. Longer periods of silence becomes possible. A mind free of thoughts. A realignment can start to take place between your body, mind and more ethereal parts.
So patience with yourself is an important aspect of meditation. Be consistent in recognising when your mind has drifted off on a chain of thoughts. Gently bring it back to your device. Eventually it will get the message and take its place in the order of things.
Sometimes people feel very charged. Emotions may come up in meditation. Or you may start your meditation having something on your mind. It’s like the meditation has fished up hurts or grievances from your psyche you might have thought had been resolved. The general philosophy is “let these emotions come, let them go”. They are like thoughts.
If they are too intense then you can hold the emotion in your consciousness. Keep observing it for what it is - you don’t need to wallow in the emotion. As you do that and persist, something starts to open. There is a letting go of the emotion and the charged-ness of that emotion diminishes. It no longer has a hold on your consciousness.
It may be some form of therapy is appropriate if these emotions are too prevailing and you have really tried with that technique mentioned above. Some meditation based therapists can help you source the emotion to release the samskaras (imprint) in your psyche bringing you emotional freedom.
Other people may experience continual recurring thoughts in meditation. In these situations you can say to yourself: “I don’t need to think that thought.” After a brief pause where you often feel some sort of relief or letting go, you return to your device.
As always, keep on sharpening the knife by returning to your meditation device. Persist and you will get results.
Persistence is the one ingredient that will bring you success in your meditation endeavors. So be kind to yourself and persevere and the results will come.
As you sharpen the knife your mind will become quieter and something else can start to take place. The rewards of doing that are huge and waiting for you.