You are not unique. But, ironically, we all think we are!
We previously wrote a blog post titled "Misconceptions about meditating ('I'm supposed to stop thinking!')" This post explored two common fallacies that we hear repeatedly:
- The goal of meditating is to "stop thinking" (note - nothing could be further from the truth!).
- Meditation is about controlling your thoughts (note - it's not, and you can't control your thoughts!).
Both are repeated often, and we address them in the post referenced above. It is important to educate people about the truth, otherwise they end up using the misconceptions as excuses not to meditate.
In recent weeks, we are seeing another excuse more and more: my mind is too busy to meditate!
This brings us back to the fact that you are not unique. Every day we get messages or talk to people who think they are the only one who has a mind that is always going. They like to talk about the chatter in their head, and how it is non-stop. And how their thoughts just keep coming! They think their mind is busier than everyone else's, and don't entertain the possibility that we all suffer from the same affliction.
But, we all do. As Eckhart Tolle says, "the human condition is lost in thought."
When we are young, our parents tell us we are unique. They have the best of intentions, but this view eventually causes us to feel isolated - like we are different from everyone else. It perpetuates a feeling of being alone, and can lead to a divisive view: "me against the world." But, we aren't that different. We all share a common set of problems*. And one of the most prevalent problems is a mind that is extremely busy!
Ironically, the excuse that so many people give as to why they can't meditate is exactly why they should. As we have discussed on this blog before, the point of meditation is to become aware of the compulsive mind and its non-stop thoughts. By cultivating awareness, we learn to observe the mind-made activity from a neutral, non-judgmental perspective. In doing so, we discover that we don't have to get swept away by the thoughts, feelings, and emotions. We learn not to attach to them, or turn them into "our story." This is the first step towards liberation!
Our challenge to you is this: dedicate 10 minutes this weekend to observing your mind. Take 5 minutes on Saturday and 5 minutes on Sunday, sit in a chair with your back straight, and focus on your breath or a spot on the wall in front of you. When you realize your mind has wandered, simply return to your point of focus. Every time you observe that your mind has wandered, you are strengthening your awareness!
Be warned - your mind will wander a lot. But, don't get frustrated. As long as you notice it and return to your point of focus, you are doing it right!
You can spare 10 minutes this weekend, can't you? If you do this Saturday and Sunday, you can also do it Monday and Tuesday. And you can eventually do it twice a day instead of once a day. And, you can eventually do it for 10 minutes each time instead of 5 minutes each time.
That is how you build a habit - one step at a time.
What do you get in return for your efforts? Stress, worry, anxiety, depression, fear, and regret begin to lose their hold on you. The challenges of life don't affect you as much as they once did. And happiness, peace, and contentment come to you easier...and they stay with you longer.
Further reading - if you want to know more, read this post explaining meditation and mindfulness.
*Reflecting on this realization - that we all share a common set of problems - will also help you cultivate compassion for yourself and others.
More on mindfulness and meditation:
- Our 21-day self-study course
- Our free guide on mindfulness and meditation
- A complete index of our blog posts and published articles
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