When was the last time you just stopped and allowed yourself to just be?
In our society today we are always on the go. We are constantly doing more and more and often getting nowhere fast! We eat on the run or while checking our phones. We have the TV on while we eat dinner. We are multi-tasking and trying to do lots of things at once because that is what is seen as acceptable behaviour.
We fear that if we stop we will be accused of being lazy or selfish. Society has us running around like hamsters on a wheel. I think it is time to stop – don’t you?
Often people come to me feeling really stressed and they want to learn how to meditate. They want to learn how to “shut off the noise” in their heads. They think that by “doing” meditation that they will solve all their problems.
Yes, meditation can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and give you much needed head-space but only if you approach it in a particular way.
When I first tried meditation I was sitting there waiting for something to happen. I wanted it to “do” something for me. I was expected some miraculous peace and enlightenment to enfold me. I was sorely disappointed. My mind wouldn’t shut off. Random thoughts kept popping into my head and the more I tried to get rid of them the more they appeared. I grew frustrated and after a while I gave up.
Years later I tried again, only this time I had learned that I didn’t have to “do” anything – I simply had to “be”. I knew that my thoughts and the random musings of my brain were always there. I knew that I just drowned them out most of the time because I kept myself so busy. I realised then that when I attempted to meditate, my mind wasn’t going nuts in some sort of conspiracy theory to stop me relaxing, it was simply airing all the thoughts that were already there – I just noticed them more.
I began to realise that I had a choice. I could either “do” something with these thoughts or I could just allow them to “be”. I decided to just let them be and see what happened. I allowed myself to notice them but I didn’t interact with them. I imagined them like cars on a motorway – just driving past. Sometimes a flashy car would drive past and I would follow it for a while but then I would realise that I was back in “doing” mode by following the car and I would re-take a seat at the side of the road and just be.
Gradually, with practice I became less concerned with the passing cars and just allowed them to drive on by. I started to then realise that there was clear space in between the cars – this was the much needed head-space I had been seeking. By simply just “being” I had found what I was looking for.
I try to explain to my meditation students that meditation is simply training for the mind. You cannot stop your thoughts but you can choose whether to interact with them or whether to just notice them and let them be.
The key thing about meditation is that you need to practice it often. Some people only come to meditation while they are stressed out and wanting some peace. Once they feel better they drop meditation from their lives and gradually the noise levels rise again.
Meditation needs to be integrated into your life in a way that works for you. Then and only then will you get the much needed inner peace and clarity that you seek.
Try taking 10 minutes a day to just be – if it helps imagine yourself sitting beside a busy road with your thoughts being the cars. When you notice that you are frantically running about trying to control the cars, acknowledge this and return to your vantage point at the road side. Gradually over time, you will stop chasing cars and just be.
Remember, there is always blue sky above the clouds – don’t give up!