You light a candle.
You sit on your cushion.
You straighten your back.
You drop your shoulders.
You relax your face and close your eyes.
You take a deep breath in and release it slowly.
You feel your belly expanding and contracting.
You’re focused on your breathing.
You’re present and in the moment.
You feel good.
You mentally repeat the mantra you chose for this meditation.
“Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.”
Your attention is centered on both the breath and the mantra.
“Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti,” you repeat over and over.
You’re in sync with your breath.
You’re here and now.
You feel calm and peaceful.
You’re proud of yourself for your level of concentration.
You enjoy the calmness.
Suddenly, you realize your mind went on a hike, and you didn’t even notice.
You’ve been mentally recreating the last conversation you had with your best friend about your annoying co-worker.
You have no idea how much time has passed since your mind drifted away.
All you know is that the initial peace you felt at the beginning of the meditation, went out the window.
Now you’re anxious and annoyed.
You try to go back to your meditation.
“Om, Shanti, Shanti, how the hell can someone be that obnoxious and not even be aware of it?” you ponder.
“Damn! I can’t meditate! Why can’t I stay focused?” you question yourself.
And you go down a spiral of negative thoughts.
You decide to quit your meditation and go on with your day.
Sometimes we want our meditation to look a certain way. We want it to be perfect. And when that doesn’t happen, we feel like we failed.
Trust me, I know how it feels. It happened to me many times.
I’ve been a meditator for over 10 years now. I know that even if, in theory, meditation seems to be an easy practice, it can also be very challenging at times.
Sometimes your mind just won’t settle down, and you know what? That’s ok!
When I first started meditating, I thought the practice’s whole goal was to stay 100% concentrated during 100% of the time.
Turns out I was wrong.
That’s not the goal of the practice, and actually, that’s virtually impossible.
Regardless of how “good” of a meditator you are, your mind will get distracted. It will drift away into the most ridiculous trains of thought.
That doesn’t mean that you’re doing it “wrong,” it only means that you’re getting a signal. And as you become aware of that signal —distraction—, you have to let go of the distracting thought and return to your focal point—breath, mantra, word, etc.
Then, allow that moment of full attention to expand as much as possible until a new distraction comes your way. You notice it, and you return to your point of focus once again.
The cycle repeats itself over and over until you finish your meditation.
With time and practice, you become better and faster at catching yourself when your mind has drifted away. You can recover your concentration more quickly.
The duration of your focused attention also lengthens, but it’s never total and perfect, because, well, perfection doesn’t exist!
Next time you meditate, try to drop all your expectations and just enjoy the ride.
Be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to experience the benefits of this practice, which are many.
For me, meditation has helped me reduce stress, improve my sleep quality, become more focused and creative, and be more aware of my thoughts and emotions instead of going on autopilot.
Meditation helps clear away the clutter and chaos in the brain that lead to the clutter and chaos in life.
It helps you make space for deep reflection and self-awareness, which allows you to make better decisions.
Having a regular meditation practice can help you become less reactive, less judgmental, and more intentional on your day to day life.
It can also help you deepen your relationship with yourself, and learn to see yourself and your experiences with more love and acceptance.
And the best part is that it’s free and accessible to everyone.
All you need to meditate is ten minutes and a comfortable place to sit.
Although there are many different kinds of meditations, this is the basic foundation for all of them.
Step 1: Breathe. Get grounded and experience your breath.
Step 2: Focus on a single point. It can be a mantra, a word, your breath, a candle, a flower, etc.
Step 3: Let it go and just be. Be in the present moment. Experience the moment. Expand it as long as you can.
Step 4: Distraction. Your brain wanders, and that’s completely normal. Suddenly, you’ll find yourself thinking about your grocery list. Or daydreaming about the trip that you wanna take when travel restrictions are finally lifted. Or you start laughing out loud about the hilarious text conversation you just had with your best friend. No matter what it is, you’ll get distracted. So, when a thought pops into your head, acknowledge it and let it go. Don’t get attached to it. Just see it and let it pass by as if it was a cloud passing through the sky.
Step 5: Bring your attention back to the single point of focus. This is the brain conditioning.
Step 6: Repeat from step 2. In a loop.
Approach your meditation practice with curiosity instead of having rigid expectations.
Instead of judging your practice, try to be the observer of it—a curious observer who is excited to see what’s gonna come up during each session.
You can even have fun catching when your mind has drifted away. See how you manage to pull it back to the present moment.
Be patient and kind to yourself.
Remember that this is not a competition in any way. You just have to be present to the moment and contemplate it.
Relax and enjoy your meditation practice.