What do you do when you’ve been trying to meditate, but notice that your monkey mind is jumping all over the place?
You’ve heard about meditation. You know that it’s good. You’ve tried it a little, but it just feels like a losing proposition because your mind is jumping all over the place.
How to actually start meditating in a way that takes you deeper and not drags you off with your distracted monkey mind? Let’s dive in.
This is Leslie Huddart. I’m a licensed acupuncturist and spiritual guide. I help empathetic healers and highly sensitive people and actually release the trauma, held in their bodies without more therapy by using the wisdom and the technical side of how the mind-body system is actually wired in a subtle body system. Here in this article, we’re talking about a mind-body type of meditation.
I have been fortunate to really have been a meditator for most of my adult life. I’m not saying we’re all on the right path. I’ve gotten better with time and I’ve been really blessed to have teachers who helped and I’m very thankful for them. One of the things that I’ve noticed and I hear people and clients say all the time is, ” I know I need to meditate, but I just can’t keep my mind still”.
You are not alone here. I’m going to give you a couple of tips on what you can do to start to get more of a lineage, traditional-based understanding of what meditation is and how that actually works.
The first key point that you should understand is that 'Your mind is an integral part of your mind-body system'.
This might seem like a little bit of a duh, but why is that important? It’s important because that means that the fluctuations of your mind stream and the things that come up in your conscious thinking mind are integrated and affected by the other parts of your mind-body system. For example, your Chi, the breathing and the way that your body’s values or the meridians are all flowing affect the mind and thinking. You may have noticed at different points in your daily activities or different times in your life that sometimes your mind seems calmer and sometimes your mind seems more active.
Well, that’s because your Chi/energy is also fluctuating and doing different things during the day. So what I want you to hear and kind of let yourself off the hook a little bit is you’re not really as a beginner or just really as a normal person who hasn’t trained themselves in meditation over a long period of time, hasn’t trained your mind-body system. You’re not a professional Yogi. You shouldn’t be able to just sit your butt down on a mat and magically go into a deep, open, clear, aligned space of deep meditation. So you’re off the hook. That’s actually normal to feel a lot of jumping around in the mind.
The second key point is that 'You should actually prepare for meditation by adjusting other parts of your mind-body system by helping the mind'.
The other parts of the body must help your mind be calmer because the mind is connected to the prana/the breath/the vital flow of energy. We can use and adjust those parts of the subtle body to make the mind calmer.
There is one of the biggest misconceptions that western culture has about yoga. Yoga in Western society has become heavily emphasized on the asana or physical practice, but there are actually eight limbs of yoga. There are lots of different aspects of yoga in which asana or physical postures are only one. Even in the ancient yoga text, there’s actually not that much mention of actual physical postures. So I want you to make a mind shift with me and realize that from a traditional sense, asanas or physical postures are actually most beneficial in preparing the body to do deeper pranayama or breathing exercises with a breath. Breathing exercises and work with the prana are actually really solidly aimed at helping prepare the body and the mind to do deeper meditation.
I hope you’re starting to get the picture. In order to have a better meditation what you actually need to do is just spend a little bit of time harmonizing. The physical body will actually calm. The meridians of the body will calm the prana or the vayu flows. (Both prana and vayu mean the same – breathing) Then you use different breathing activities to help calm the mindstream as well, which will help you have a deeper meditation. So what does that look like practically? For example, you have about 15 or 20 minutes to meditate. So what I would recommend if you’re starting out is to use five minutes to do some gentle yoga postures. Maybe you do three different yoga postures for about two minutes (you can adjust this timing for your needs). Also, for another three to five minutes, you do a little bit of pranayama or breathwork. I would recommend you start with alternate nostril breathing sometimes called Nadi shodhana. It’s very simple. You’re essentially breathing out one nostril and then breathing in. Then you’re closing that nostril off and breathing out. You can Google for videos on ‘Nadi shodhana’. It also helps to harmonize the different sides of the brain. And in yoga, we talk about the svahas or its sort of subtle energy flow that gets a little bit more harmonized. After this, you’ll notice that you feel calmer overall. Alternate nostril breathing is one of those things that has been really established traditionally, as well as with some modern research on the effects of this on our body. After this, spend the rest of the time doing your meditation, sitting calmly, and starting to pay attention to your breath. Whatever technique you’re using, allow the mind to be open and particularly not follow thoughts as they come.
It's very normal for your mind to fluctuate while you try to meditate. It doesn't mean you aren't doing it the right way.
Another mistake that people make in meditation is to assume that if you’re really meditating, then you won’t have any thoughts arise at all. It is the nature of the mind. The mind is just like an animal we would find in nature or a particular flower. Every part of nature has a different way of being and the way of the mind is to naturally fluctuate and to constantly change. So the purpose of meditating is not to just go blank totally and never have anything, but it’s also to become more still and not to attach and follow those parts of the mind. So just adding the aspects of physical postures, along with breathing will really help.
The last aspect that you can add is the Joba practice or mantra repetition and I would recommend adding it either between the breathing and the meditation or at the start. Often in the yoga tradition, this is done with a mala. Here, you repeat either a mantra or a syllable in your mind or gently out loud without moving your lips. This will also help to focus and harmonize the mind, which again helps prepare it for meditation. So if you have a mantra, obviously given to you by a teacher you can follow that. If you don’t have a mantra, you can use some basic mantras that are easily available, depending on your tradition. You can use something like Om or Ahmen and even just the thought God is Love. God is love depending on your tradition, you can use any short syllable mantra and a repetition sound helps the mind focus and again prepares it for meditation. So these are several tools that will all help to quiet the mind and I think using them in even a short amount of time, you’ll start to notice the difference. Also, this will help you allow things to unfold in your inner world in a more expansive and easy way.
Have a super Chi and blessings on you and your monkey mind. May your Chi be smooth and your values are harmonized. As you start to go deeper into yourself. Don’t give up. Your inner world is really the purpose of life and it’s the thing that actually makes your outer world more peaceful, productive, and aligned with your purpose.
You are a soul with a body and you deserve great things!
Disclaimer: This program is not intended to be a substitute for professional mental health or counseling services. No practitioner-patient relationship is established and the training content is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and nothing here is intended to diagnose, cure or treat any disorders.