Whether you’ve meditated in a yoga class, or even just tried to quiet your thoughts before falling asleep, you’ve probably experienced what yogis call the monkey mind— all those thoughts that interrupt your concentration. It can be discouraging and even alarming that you can’t clear your mind and focus for more than a few seconds before these thoughts start invading. But the first step of developing a daily meditation practice is recognizing that this is what the mind does.
When you first begin meditating, you learn to focus on feeling the breath enter your body, fill your belly, chest and throat, and then exit the body. As your mind wanders, the challenge of a beginner is to acknowledge that the mind has wandered, let go of the thought, and returned the focus back to the breath. This process of remembering to bring your attention to the breath has a deep effect on calming and strengthening the mind. It develops the witness conscious, which observes all your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors without reactivity or judgment. The witness is a powerful tool for daily meditation and your everyday life.
Stephen Cope, a psychotherapist, author, and yoga teacher states, “We are not our thoughts. We are not our internal chatter,” in his book The Wisdom of Yoga. This is the beauty of meditation. Once we have practiced meditation and learned to let go of those thoughts, we find a deeper level of our self that exists beyond the contents of the mind. Through meditation, you learn to recognize when thoughts or behaviors arise and to release them, giving you the power to meet your true self. Even the newest person to meditation can experience this!
Try this simple, daily mediation that everyone can do in their home. We like to do our meditation right when we wake up in the morning, setting intentions and the tone for the day. But listen to your intuition, and meditate when you feel it is right for you.
A Simple Daily Meditation
- Set a timer for three minutes.
- Find a comfortable seated position and close your eyes.
- Breathe naturally through the nose.
- After a few breaths bring your attention to the breath, feeling it enter and exit the body.
- When your mind wanders, bring your focus back to the breath.
- After the three minutes is over, journal your experience. What did you notice about your thoughts? How long did it take you to realize your mind had wandered? As you practice daily, continue to add a more time and journal how your mind changes and develops.
- Check in with yourself throughout the day and see where you can let go of the thoughts and come back to center. You might catch yourself making judgments of others or allowing emotions like frustration take over. The goal is to notice it happening and get back to the breath.
Once you feel more comfortable with your meditation, try meditating with crystals and incorporating other energy tools into your practice to deepen your meditation.