People often attend my “Introduction to Meditation” workshop because they feel stressed. During the session, we practice meditating, so I hear mixed feedback about the participant’s ability to settle the mind or not. Some report that they relaxed, while others quickly revert to the thinking brain and promptly forget the two-word mantra they were asked to repeat. Some quickly conclude that they can’t meditate, or meditation isn’t for them. I’ve been there, and I gently encourage people to be kind to themselves because this is day 1 in building a meditation practice.

Think about this; we are raised in a society where the prowess of the mind and thinking dominate. The mind has a legitimate purpose in helping us to navigate our lives, but there’s a point where the mind is so active that it takes away from our ability to “be.” 

The thoughts are the seeds of the imagination and can lead to many beautiful and creative things. However, the mind isn’t serving you well if you are replaying the past or are seated in worry as you replay what could have and should have been or what could or might happen. You are the thinker of those thoughts, and you have to retrain you. So be patient as these behavior patterns don’t automatically change based on one meditation class.

Building a meditation practice is just that. Something that you embrace daily to create a new habit in support of your being. I use the word embrace because that sounds attractive and inviting. It’s about looking forward to being with you, in a space where you have faith that all will be well while you nrture yourself for 15 to 30 minutes.

I might sound Pollyannaish, but I’ve had students come back and share that initially, they weren’t sure they were doing it “right,” but they as they suspended judgment and evaluation of their experience, they started having moments of peace. One moment, extended to a more extended moment and before they realized it – they felt something had shifted.

So, understand that any change in behavior is about a process. Everything that you’ve learned came in stages. What’s on your list. It took me a while to learn to:

  • Drive a car
  • Ride a bike
  • Learn photography
  • Play an instrument
  • Swim
  • Reading and Writing – we now take for granted

Think about the first time that you got behind the wheel of a car. Since the time that you were a child, most have been exposed to driving via the passenger seat. As a child we knew what the lights and signs symbolize and had a lot of comments when an adult was driving too slowly or should have moved to the next lane. Sitting in the passenger seat allowed us to judge and comment because we weren’t at the wheel of the car. 

Once you’re empowered with your learner’s permit, and you are in the driver’s seat, it’s a bit scary. Initially, it’s overwhelming as you absorb the full array of sensory input. There’s dials, pedals and handles that you must understand before you can focus on the other cars, bikes, and those pesky pedestrians. Get my point; it takes a little bit of practice before you’re moving to conscious competence. Most were determined to pass the driving test, so you stayed with the process until you acquired the skills required to pass the test.

Envision embracing meditation as a similar journey where you learn which style, setting, and props lead you to that place of settling down.  In this case, it’s not about passing a test but about settling the mind. Be patient and embrace meditation as a new skill or tool that can lead to a relaxed mind with both physical and emotional benefits.

Join me in practice at Wellzone Weight Loss for monthly workshops where we’ll take a test drive with Meditation.

 Linda D. Marshall