Meditation is an opportunity to connect with ourselves, become aware of what we feel, and explore our thoughts. However, curbing the thoughts while meditating can be quite difficult. It requires practice and adequate techniques to achieve it. Many people believe that they are not going to be able to stop thinking no matter what they do. Some people think they’re incapable of relaxing. Meditating won’t stop your thought process or leave your mind blank.
It is normal to have recurring thoughts while meditating since the mind is an active machine. It’s believed that we have 60.000 to 80.000 different thoughts a day. It’s logical, with these numbers, deliberately deactivating our thought process isn’t easy. Meditation teaches us neither cling to thoughts nor run away from them. It allows thoughts to come and go without letting ourselves get carried away by the emotions they may bring. Hence, learning to control your mind from wandering while meditating is important.
All-day our mind flits from one topic to another. After a long day at work, the mind is likely to be speedy. You need to gently nudge it down before meditation. Have a cup of coffee, change the clothes, or read a few pages of a meditation book before meditation. These help you to transit into meditation.
Meditation is not a tool to turn off your mind. The human mind is radiant, brilliant, and amazing. There is no off switch. Befriend yourself in meditation, transcend your experience, have a powerful realization, but your mind will remain “on.”
Another misbelief is that thoughts are bad and we should rid ourselves of thoughts. The human mind cannot stop producing thoughts. Often when people discover that thoughts continue to appear, they get discouraged and think they are the worst meditator. Meditation is about developing a healthier relationship with the mind. It is a way to become more familiar with your mind and the types of thoughts that come up throughout the day.
Acknowledge the thoughts. Be gentle with yourself and return your attention to breathing. Focus on the breath. Thoughts about life, fantasies, emotions, discursive and subtle emotions will come up. Look at it, acknowledge it, and come back to the breath. Be kind to yourself while meditating. You acknowledge a thought and come back to the breath, only to have that same thought come up again immediately. Avoid self-judgment while meditating. Use meditation to befriend yourself, to be kind and sweet to yourself. You have attuned your inner voice to give yourself a break when things don’t go the way you want.
Do not immediately rush off to your work after meditation. Take a moment to stretch, have a glass of water or take a stroll. Transitioning out of the meditation practice allows you to maintain a clear mind, that can accommodate anything.
Below are several tips to prevent the mind from wandering while meditating.
Breathing is a good exercise to keep the mind centered. It helps the body to relax. Count inhalation and exhalation. If your mind starts wandering and you lost counting, don’t panic. Be nice to yourself and start over.
- Draw or imagine shapes
Try drawing any shape or imagine any shape while you practice breathing exercises (inhaling, exhaling, and holding your breath). Focus on the shape of an object close to you such as candle flame.
- Practice guided meditation
Silent meditation acts as a guide to help you. There are many resources to choose from to get a guided meditation. Try exploring different videos and audios on the internet.
- Accept your thoughts
When practicing meditation, instead of pushing the thoughts away, welcome them. Trying so hard not to think about something will only make you think about it more. Welcoming your thoughts will make you feel free. If you don’t like the thoughts, create a pleasant image about them in your mind. For example, imagine your mind as the blue sky and your thoughts as clouds passing through it. Allow your thoughts to appear and disappear.
- Write down the thoughts
If there are many things on your mind, write them down before meditation session. That way, you won’t be keeping your thoughts inside your mind and you’ll avoid obsessing over them. Write down all the thoughts without analyzing or judging them. Don’t think much about them. Try to express yourself through your writing. Put your thoughts on paper. It will help you to be more relaxed while meditating.
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- Regular practice
Meditating at the same time and the same place will create a routine. Your brain will know what’s coming next and it’ll get prepared for it. You will feel comfortable doing it. It is necessary to create a habit of liberating yourself from your thoughts. It will help you to keep your mind from wandering while you meditate.