It is a sunny afternoon in the garden. The birds are singing and the sky is blue. I close my eyes to try meditation and Wham !! My mind starts up and tells me all about my worries and things to do. The relentless march of thoughts stomp their way across my forehead and give me a headache. “Bother !” (or words to that effect). “Now I need a cup of tea and maybe a biscuit – oooh cake, no I want chocolate.”. So much for meditation. So many people tell me that they can’t meditate. Mind is too busy, too active or just too random. So why is something so wonderful for the whole person so difficult to do ?. Well the answer is easy. You have spent your entire life training your mind to be efficient and effective and a store for your to-do list. From the time we are young children we are praised for remembering to do stuff. The sub-conscious is the bit that jumps up and says “don’t forget your keys”, “don’t forget your homework”, “remember your lunch” etc etc. So, when we sit quietly the sub-conscious gets out the to-do list, puts on its spectacles and says “ok, here it is, !the list of things you haven’t done yet”. It is doing its job really well. The job you have spent your whole life teaching it. It is a defence mechanism and it believes 100% that it is protecting you from failure, embarrassment and even threats to your wellbeing. The only way to work with your protective sub-conscious is to do exactly that, work with it !
My first attempts at meditation were epic failures. Imagine this…. I have sat down to meditate. Elegantly poised in half lotus. hands rested in a mudra on my knees, back straight, eyes closed and feeling calm (borderline saintly !). I take a deep breath and as it gently leaves my body, my mind says “did you turn the oven off ?”. One eye opens as the little muscles on my forehead ripple and I grimace. OK downstairs to check the oven. Whilst in the kitchen I decide that a glass of water would be best for meditation, or maybe a warm drink of herbal tea ?. I head back up the the stairs with tea, water and biscuits looking like a picnic is more likely than a 20 minute meditation. Just before I sit down I realise that I might not have locked the side door. I head downstairs and check the lock, which is fine, but while I’m here I let the dogs out, tidy their bed, give them a snack and move 2 random cups to the kitchen. Back upstairs ignoring the phone, which has rung twice and tinkled once (possibly a text). I sit in expected fashion and wonder if I should drink the tea and check that text or just go back to my desk and try again tomorrow. It won’t be long before I remember that the dogs are in the garden and will probably bark at someone before my meditation has reached 10 seconds, let alone nirvana. Does this sound familiar ? So, how is it done ? How do you do a deal with your sub-conscious ? How does meditation happen in a quiet house, let alone a busy one. Well it is easy, much easier than you think ! Each time a thought arises you say (to yourself) “noted”, or “acknowledged” or “I will get to that”. Don’t try and fight a system you set up, because you are only fighting your-self !. As each item on the to-do list presents itself, promise to do something about one of the things on the lists. This way it will start to trust you and slowly quieten down. It may take a while but it WILL work. I remember being told that I should just let thoughts pass me by ” just let them drift on through” said by meditation teacher. I don’t remember a single thought ever drifting. It ganged up with the others and gave me a headache, leaving me feel like a meditation failure. But…when you get it sorted the benefits of meditation are amazing. You start with mindfulness by taking your attention to your breathing. You then do deals with each item on your mental sub-conscious to-do lists and allow the world to slow down, then seem to pause. Then one day for one minute or two you will meet something truly amazing. Time will pass in a peaceful haze and when you gently return to the real world you will feel calm, peaceful, grounded, and relaxed and you might just sense that you have touched a blissful state of true peace. Now doesn’t that sound rather good. Doesn’t that sound like the best present ever ? It is time for you to achieve that potential and make so much of the bad stuff go away for a while. You might even sleep better, make excellent decisions and find the world a much nicer place. It really works for me so maybe you could give it a try ?