This morning I was listening to a talk by Paramhansa Yogananda, the yogic master who brought meditation and other yogic practices from India to vast audiences in the west beginning in the 1920s. He was talking about the incredibly common problem of restless thoughts during meditation. He gave an analogy of collecting water in a glass from a muddy river. When the water has just been put in the glass, it is full of mud floating all throughout the water, and it simply looks like dirty water. But, if you set the glass on a table, with time the mud will settle on the bottom.
The same is true of our restless thoughts. When we sit to meditate, it is normal to have thoughts stirring in our heads. We have techniques we use to quiet our minds (usually via the breath), but thoughts can continue to come up despite our efforts to still them. This is especially true - and frustrating! - for beginners. But as we settle into stillness and continue to bring our focus back, our minds begin to become clear. The key is using our willpower to persevere. Don’t give up because you feel you aren’t keeping your mind quiet. Prove to your mind - to yourself - that you will carry on even if you have to bring yourself back 1,000 times.
The brain is just like other muscles in our bodies in that it gets stronger with use. As we keep bringing our mind back to center when we realize our concentration has waned, we are getting stronger! We are training our brains to focus, and we are strengthening the prefrontal cortex which makes it stronger and over time allows us to more easily focus longer.
It isn’t realistic to expect that you are going to perfect meditation as soon as you begin. In fact, no matter how long you’ve been practicing meditation it’s best not to approach it with perfection as the goal. Bear in mind that it’s called a meditation practice. It’s not a race or a competition, and putting pressure on yourself is counterproductive to the qualities you are trying to cultivate with meditation. Be gentle, kind, and understanding with yourself, so you can present these qualities more easily to the world outside of meditation.
I am an Ananda® certified meditation teacher. I am passionate about meditation and embrace a yogic lifestyle for greater wellness physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
All Cold Fasting Flu Healing Health Higher Living Meditation Meditation Challenges Meditation Dry Spell Meditation Growth Neti Pot Paramhansa Yogananda Personal Growth Spiritual Growth Spiritual Podcasts Yogic Breathing