How To Sit Still: is meditation even possible??

How To Sit Still: is meditation even possible??

How To Sit Still: is meditation even possible??


I often hear people say, "I can't meditate". Well here's a secret... Most people who meditate regularly often feel the same way! 

It's not as simple as sitting down and turning the chatter off in your head and enjoying the peace as you float into ultimate bliss. What it's more often about is just sitting still!

Meditating is often described as taming the monkey mind: we each have a giddy monkey chattering away in our head. When we meditate, the "goal" is to start to control the monkey mind, calm the waters, find the space between the chatter and expand that space. 

But on occasion, an attempt to meditate can turn your chattering monkey into a crazy drunken monkey being chased by a swarm of bees! Worry not! Surely even Buddha had days like that!?! Here's 5 tips that have helped me and may help you too:

1) Set an alarm

Give yourself a time limit and stick to it. Whether it's 10 minutes or an hour, set an alarm and commit yourself to stay still until the alarm goes off. If you use your phone to set the alarm then make sure it is switched to "Airplane Mode" and choose a sound alert that is gentle and quiet. You just need a noise - not an actual alarm bell! 

2) Give your monkey something to do

When you train a dog to do tricks, you can't simply do a hand gesture and the pup will roll over. You have to go through regular, gentle but concentrated training. It's the same with your monkey mind - you can't just tell it to "shut up!". Start by giving the monkey something to do. Here's a couple of options. Stick to one, and every time you realise that your mind has wandered off, simply bring your attention back to your "task". Don't reprimand yourself for having veered off course - celebrate that you have noticed your mind wandering and then start again.

  • Count the breaths: Start at 27 and work your way down to 1. If you make it to 1 then start again at 27. If you lose track then start again at 27.
  • So Hum: Repeat the sounds "So Hum" in your mind with every breath - "So" on the inhale and "Hum" on the exhale. This is a mantra which means "I am that", where "that" refers to everything/oneness/universality.    

3) Include simple breathing exercises 

If you find yourself completely unable to stick to your "task" or if you find yourself drifting into dreams or sleep then do a short and simple breathing exercise to bring your self back into the present moment. Doing a couple of rounds of conscious breathing will help you to sharpen your ability to simply Be Here Now. Here are a couple of suggestions. Breathe gently through the nose throughout and just do a few rounds and then go back to your meditation. 

  • Inhale into the belly counting to 4; control your exhale as you count to 6.
  • Breathe into the belly, then the sides of the ribs and then the top of the chest; exhale slowly from the top of the chest, then the sides of the ribs and then from the belly.

4) Go to a class

Group meditation is a great way to strengthen your resolve to practice meditation. You can pick up new tips and meditation techniques and find one that works for you. But make sure you practice between classes too! 

5) Don't put it off!

Do it NOW! Be. Here. Now! Meditate every day! Making time to sit on a daily basis has numerous benefits, but if you struggle to sit, if you forget or convince yourself that you don't have time, then make time. Even if it's just for 5 minutes. Close your eyes on the tube and focus on the breath; pause whilst you wait for the kettle to boil and let your thoughts float into the background as you notice the pauses between thoughts. 

If you’re too busy to meditate for an hour,
then you should meditate for 2!
— from an ancient Zen proverb

And finally... 

Give thanks!

Always finish your meditation practice with gratitude. Take a few moments with your eyes closed and your hands together in a prayer position in front of your heart and send gratitude and love to yourself and to that which supports you.

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