If you’re new to meditation, or if you feel you’ve been hacking away at it for some while now with mixed results, you might be under the impression that it’s all about clearing your mind. Shutting off thought. Being a disturbance-free zone. Peace, love, unicorns, and all that good vibe stuff.
You might get that sometimes. Meditation is a mirror to our lives, and just like in life, sometimes it’s easy and pleasant and sometimes it’s a pain in the arse.
The only thing you need to know, remember, and implement to meditate like a pro is this. Begin again. That’s it.
Focus your awareness on your chosen object. This might be your breath, a mantra, a candle, or simply awareness itself. Every time your mind wanders – and it will, not because YOU aren’t good at meditation or because YOU personally just can’t do it, but because that’s just the nature of the untrained mind – and knowing that, simply begin again.
Don’t waste time beating yourself up about how crap you are at concentrating. Don’t waste time judging yourself or getting frustrated. That’s the equivalent of trying to still a pool of water by slapping it about. Instead, gracefully begin again. Bring your awareness back to your focus. Again, and again, and again. And…again.
It doesn’t matter if you have to begin again hundreds and thousands of times. Because that’s the practice. Meditation is the art of letting go and beginning again.
The moment when you’ve realised your mind has wandered is the moment of greatest opportunity. In that moment you’re already becoming present again and that’s your opportunity to begin again, gracefully.
Each time you begin again is like doing a mental push-up. You’re strengthening your mind.
And the best part? This is cross-training for life. We meditate not to get better at meditation but to get better at life. In life we’re always starting anew, each moment. If we can do so gracefully without dragging drama from one moment to the next, all the better. We’ll free up so much energy and headspace, just by allowing ourselves to let go and begin again.
Slipped up on the diet and indulged in something naughty? No worries, no need to wait for Monday, or the 1st of the month, or the 1st of January, just begin again now.
Got into a ruckus with someone about something? Clear the air, communicate, resolve it, let go and begin again.
Feeling like the day is a write-off for whatever reason? Take a deep breath and begin again.
So go sit. Focus on your breath. And when your mind wanders and you notice it’s wandered, smile, and simply begin again.
Inspired by Sharon Salzberg’s teaching. If you’re a podcast fan like me check her out in this lively and entertaining interview with Russell Brand.