Clarity for people who suck at Meditation

Clarity for people who suck at Meditation

Do you suck at meditation?

It’s OK, so do I and so do most of us. The problem with meditation is that we are told to clear our mind completely to create an outer space type vacuum in our head that will make our mind completely silent. It’s impossible, and unless you want to shave your head and move to Tibet, I don’t think it’s something we need to aspire to.

Why do you want to meditate?

Is it because your hippy yoga instructor has declared it the only path to spiritual nirvana? Is it because you want to control anxiety? Or, is it something that you think will make you better at life’s challenges?

I’m not sure about spiritual nirvana, but mediation will certainly help with anxiety, stress and life’s challenges. It is a great way to reboot your brain, connect with gratitude and re-align priorities.

Buddha was asked what he gained from meditation. His response might surprise you. He said, ‘Nothing! However, let me tell you what I lost: anger, anxiety, depression, insecurity, fear of old age and death.’

Science has shown the benefits of meditation and Buddha was right. It does all those things. The problem is, most of us are terrible at meditation. In the modern world of constant information overload and multitasking, being able to clear and reset the brain is a difficult but, really valuable skill.

I have tried to meditate and clear the mind completely. I’ve even bought relaxation CDs that play sounds like dolphins farting or ‘waterfall mist.’ These either make me remember TV episodes of Flipper from the ’70s or make me want to pee. I never manage to get meditation right. If I try to (cue slow calming voice) imagine a tranquil lake, before I know it, there are people surfing, bikini-clad women on the beach, and a long par five with a golf green on the lake’s edge. I’m no good at meditation.

So, how do we get better at meditation?

You don’t! Let’s get better at mind awareness.

Mind awareness, is simply understanding what you are thinking. It steals lots of good stuff from meditation without the “Am I doing it right?” issues.

So how do you practise mind awareness? Glad you asked.

You don’t have to do anything special. You can lie down, sit somewhere comfortable or stand on your head, it doesn’t matter. Just get comfortable. When you are comfy, close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Nice and deep. Just like meditation, concentrate on your breathing and try and be as relaxed as you can.

Eventually, thoughts will wander in and out of your head, that’s OK. Just keep breathing in and out and let the thoughts wander in, float around and wander out again. This is the key to mind awareness, DON’T JUDGE YOUR THOUGHTS! Just let them wander in and out without fixing problems or making to-do lists.

My advice is to set aside 5-10 minutes a day to practice mind awareness. I particularly like doing it first thing on waking in the morning or just after finishing an exercise workout. Do the breathing and enjoy the thoughts wandering in and out.

Mind awareness is a great way to identify your dominant thoughts and put them in perspective rather than letting them ruminate in your sub-conscious and rent a room in your head for free. Our fallback position is to ruminate until we work out the problem.

Following your 5-10 minute session, ask yourself the three question, mind awareness quiz:

1. What am I thinking?
2. Why am I thinking it?
3. Is it helping?

If you take a non-judgemental view of the thought processes, you are more likely to answer these questions honestly and identify the really important things in your life. You will identify your self inflicted stress and put measures in place to put these into perspective.

Mind awareness can be done anywhere, anytime and because it doesn’t have the stress of “not doing it right”, it’s a lot easier (but just as effective) as meditation.

Practice mind awareness for the next 21 days and see what happens. Maybe, just maybe, you may find yourself getting all the benefits of meditation despite being terrible at it.


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