Meditation is harder than it looks! Our brains are so overloaded with information these days that sitting and thinking of nothing can be a challenge. I can make it about 15 seconds before my mind is off on some tangent about the electric bill, or that thing I have to do on Wednesday, or that conversation I had with so-and-so last week, or one of about a billion other random thoughts dancing around in my noggin.
Over time I’ve found a few things that help me keep my concentration while meditating. I’m no expert, but maybe these tips will help another newbie-in-training like me! 🙂
1) Focus on a sound. One trick I’ve used is to find some kind of soft, regular sound in the background and focus on it. Things like the sound of a washing machine or an electric fan, the patter of rain, or the chirping of crickets. These sounds don’t require any kind of concentration, since they contain no information like words or music does. But it gives the mind a little something to occupy it so random thoughts have a harder time barging in. Sometimes I’ll try to sync up my breathing with the rhythm of the sound.
2) Use a mantra. Mantras have been used in meditation for a loooong time. I’m still learning about the deep meaning of mantras and the power of sound, but in the meantime they accomplish the same purpose as the first tip I mentioned above: giving your brain a focus point. There are traditional Sanskrit mantras, as well as more modern ones. You can even make up your own mantra! The first personal mantra I created was “Health, Wealth, Success, Friends, Love, Happiness“; which is a simple listing of the things I wanted in my life. Another one I frequently use is the sequence from the Hawaiian philosophy of Ho’oponopono: “I love you, I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you.” I’ve found that reciting a mantra can be very calming.
3) Speak out loud. Brain stuff is probably supposed to be in the brain, but I’ve found that it helps me to speak mantras or affirmations out loud. It takes just enough attention that the mind can’t go off wandering all over the place as easily. Of course, this could get weird if there are other people around, but it works great when you’re alone.
4) Legs up the wall position. I find it easiest to meditate in the “legs up the wall” yoga position. I have no idea why this helps, but for me it’s much more effective than sitting. And it’s supposed to be good for your brain and organs anyway, so it can’t hurt! I have no explanation for this one, but why not give it a try?
I hope these tips are helpful for someone! And if you have any tips for me, feel free to let me know. I’m still learning. 🙂
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