Probably the biggest misconception that people have about meditating is that in order to do it correctly, you have to stop your thoughts completely and have a blank mind. Simply stated, that is impossible. No one can stop thoughts from occurring. It’s what our brains do. There is no thinking “off” button.
I subscribe to a daily message from the Enneagram Institute and today’s teaching was this:
There is no “right” or “wrong” way to meditate, and everyone is invited to enter into “a sitting” (as we call the meditations) in a spirit of open inquiry and allowing so that we simply see whatever comes up for us in the moment. Do not try, or effort, or strain. Relax and breathe…
Anyone can learn how to meditate! Just like most skills, it requires a desire to learn and commitment to practice. Think of learning to meditate as training your “mindfulness muscle”. A great analogy is weightlifting. If you want to lift 100 pounds, you don’t start bench pressing 100 pounds. You start with smaller weights and add more weight gradually. You train your muscles so that in time you can lift 100 pounds without landing on the floor writhing in pain.
If you want to learn to meditate, start small. Listen to a short, guided meditation. There are tons of them on the internet. Take a class like my Koru Mindfulness Course. Or just try focusing on your breath for 1 minute. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. When your mind wanders, and I assure you it will, simply notice that your mind has wandered and then kindly and gently bring your attention back to your breath. Over and over and over again. In time, it will get easier and you will notice how good you feel!