Do you find that your mind drifts away to many things as you are sitting down to meditate?

Is your meditation session more like a ‘thinking’ session rather than a quiet ‘being’ session?

Are you having trouble focusing in meditation?

You are not alone.

It is the nature of the mind to think. After all, the mind is nothing but a flow of thoughts.

Monkey mind—hopping from thought to thought

Right now, our minds are a messy jumble of unorganized thoughts going every which way. Unless we direct the mind, the thoughts that we think have no logical sequence. That’s why the mind is said to be like a monkey—jumping randomly from branch to branch.

It’s impossible to simply will the thoughts to stop. The mind is very delicate and we have to know how to coax it to slow down gradually and gently.

Preparing for meditation

In meditation, we are attempting to empty our minds of the never-ending barrage of thoughts.

However, it’s only natural that what you are habitually thinking about will show up during your meditation practice.

In fact, if you were unaware of the types of thoughts you were thinking about during the natural course of your day, trying to calm your mind during meditation will bring them front and centre—like a whining child tugging at your shirt, demanding your attention.

So, how to quiet the thoughts?

It has to be done in stages…

From messy mind to focused mind

Prepare yourself physically and mentally for meditation.

  1. Set up a dedicated place of meditation

Setting up a dedicated space for your meditation practice and using regularly trains your mind to automatically become quiet when in that space.

Find a space in your home that is not used for anything else but your meditation practice.

Place a thin cushion or folded blanket to sit on the floor or on an armless chair.

You could set up a small altar with objects that help to elevate your mind. For example, you could place some images or symbols on the wall or on a table that you resonate with.

They could be symbols associated with your faith or from any other faith – a Cross, an OM, the yin/yang symbol, the Star of David, A meditating Buddha, a lotus and so on.

You could dim the lights and light a lamp and burn some incense if you enjoy that.

Preparing your body and mind to meditate in your personal sacred space is like getting ready to go to sleep. When it’s almost your bedtime, you stop doing what you are doing and start preparing for bed. You brush your teeth, wash up, change into your pajamas, get into bed, turn off the lights and close your eyes.

It’s the same thing in meditation—you withdraw from all your usual activities, sit on your meditation seat, light a lamp and close your eyes.

  1. Organize the many thoughts to think about one subject

Once you have taken the steps to prepare yourself physically and mentally, you will find that your thoughts have already reduced in number.

Now, set up an intention to consciously calm the thoughts. You can do this in a few ways.

You could focus on your breath, a mantra or an inspiring quote.

Hold that attention until your thoughts become fewer and further away from each other.

  1. Have only one goal

Finally, focus entirely on one single thought—getting to the state of pure ‘Being’.

This state of pure ‘Being’ can be compared to having the goal of falling asleep.

Coming back to the example above, after the outer preparations for sleep are done, you shut out all other thoughts except the thought of going to sleep. Then you stay still and wait until you automatically slip into sleep.

The importance of regular practice

Inner peace and poise in life are two beautiful rewards of meditation.

It is a slow evolutionary process. Just as a trickle of water can become a huge lake, regular practice of meditation will uplift and totally transform you and your vision of life.

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Manisha Melwani

Manisha Melwani is a teacher and the author of, "So You're a Spiritual Being–Now What?" She offers spiritual and wellness solutions for life and stress management. She teaches classes in personal growth, stress management and meditation. She is based in Richmond Hill and Markham, Ontario. Contact her for more information or to have her speak to your group or organization. She also offers private counselling sessions in person or on-line.
Manisha Melwani

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