Probably 95% of the time we hear the words Meditation or Mindful and start having these weird panicked thoughts like “my mind is supposed to be blank, I’m having visions of blue skies and ocean fronts, I am not thinking of anything….insert a million thoughts racing through your mind here” and then the classic frustration sets in. The frustration of not being able to still the mind be at that beach, staring at that sky, and we actually notice how the mind runs away on it’s own if left unsupervised.
What I hear a lot in all the Yoga Classes I teach is,
“I can’t Meditate”
“My mind just keeps going on filled with thoughts”
“I stopped trying because I became so frustrated”
So this one goes out to all you Yoga-Loving peeps looking to learn how to become a little more Mindful.
I often feel that many people are somewhat rushing into Spirituality or Mindfulness without fully knowing what it is exactly they are working towards, mixed with the fact our culture currently is very into the instantaneous reward process. If you’re coming into this practice with the mindset of “fast reward” you’re setting yourself up to become frustrated, and fast. We as a Society don’t like when we feel as though we are “going slow” and slow is pretty much the pace we start at when it comes to a more Mindful way of living. I’m not going to tell you to stop thinking of blue skies and ocean fronts, I’m not going to tell you to stop getting frustrated when the mind runs away filled with thoughts again, I am however going to ask you to try something new.
Rest your awareness on your breath.
That is all you need to start. Nothing else. Just your breath.
Set a small amount of time aside each day, maybe start with 5 - 15 Minutes, lay down, get comfortable, and take in a huge breath through your nose, and let it out through the mouth with a sigh. Then, not changing the way you naturally breathe, start to notice how* you’re breathing. Notice if you tend to mainly breath in your chest, taking in small sips of air. Notice if you take huge deep breaths. For a few minutes that’s all you’re going to do, notice how you* breath.
After a few minutes slowly start to shape your breath. Inhale and fill the low belly with air, then the ribs, up into the chest, and exhale slowly down from the chest, down through the ribs, and lastly hallowing out the low belly, really feeling the navel draw in towards the spine. If this starts to feel to difficult like you can’t expand all these different areas of your body, start to imagine it in your head, picture your whole body as balloon filling with air and deflating. Just by picturing this you can start to shape and change the way you breath.
Lastly, the mind will want to run away on you a million times, each time it runs off bring it back to the breath, repeat in your head as you inhale “Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in”, on your exhale “Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out.” What this little bit does is it gives your mind something to “do” while still focus the attention on the breath.
At any point if you start to feel breath-starved or become slightly nauseous, release from the breath and return to your natural way of breathing. It’s fairly common to feel these ways when first starting a breath practice, so take it easy.
What focusing the minds attention on the breath does, is that it allows you to become in the present moment, it allows space to be created and allows the mind to become clear and peaceful. It’s a slow process, but stick with it. That doesn’t mean there won’t be times filled with frustration over the process, but be gentle with yourself. Take a few minutes each day to just breath.