Can meditation help stop your thoughts?
Updated: Sep 3, 2022
Take a deep breath and ask yourself “What is meditation?”
When I first asked myself this question, I got an image of a person, sitting on the floor, in a lotus position (cross-legged), eyes closed, chanting ‘Aum”, with the intention to stop all thoughts! I believed meditation was supposed to help me relax and it will magically stop my thoughts, especially the negative thoughts!
However, I soon found out, that was not the case for me! I could not sit in the lotus position for more than a few seconds. When sitting on the floor, my back, legs, and ankles hurt! I felt restless. My mind became hyperactive. I kept thinking of all the things I could be doing instead of trying to sit still! My ten-minute-a-day meditation practice left me feeling flustered, agitated, and stressed!
Today, I love meditating and it had positively changed my life on all levels!
So, here is what I have discovered and learned over the years.
You do not have to sit on the floor in a lotus position to meditate. You can, if you prefer, sit on a cushion, a meditation stool, a chair, or under a tree. Meditation can also be done while lying on the bed, on a yoga mat, on grass, sand, or even while walking (with eyes open)!
During meditation, instead of getting lost in your thoughts, you focus on an object. In other words, you rest your awareness on something such as the breath, music, mantra, a picture, candle flame, sensation, task, or a calming image.
Let us imagine you are sitting by the window, watching the cars go by. You see them come and go, you do not have to hop into every car that drives by! Likewise, when you meditate, you allow the thoughts to pass by without going off with them. When you realize that your mind has gone off with a thought, you simply, without judgment, bring it back to the object of your focus. Gradually, with dedication and practice, this becomes easier, and eventually, thoughts slow down.
Regular mediation will help you release stress, and become calmer, more content, and more joyful. When stress levels are reduced, you will begin to see a positive change in your overall health.
Participating in group mediation can be very helpful, especially in the early stages of practice. The collective energy of the group can improve your ability to relax and focus.
Here are three simple meditations for you to try out.
Meditation on Your Breath
One of the simplest ways to come to the present moment is to focus on your breath.
Set your timer for 2 minutes. Place one hand on your abdomen, and the other on the heart. You may like to close your eyes. Take a slow deep breath in, filling your abdomen with air, and then slowly breathe out, through the nose or mouth. As you inhale deeply mentally say 'ten' and slowly exhale. Inhale deeply again and mentally say 'nine', and slowly exhale… repeat counting backward and focusing on your breath and abdomen, till you reach the number one. If your mind wanders off, it is okay and it is normal. Just start from 10 again without judging yourself. When the two minutes are up, relax and open your eyes. Very gradually increase the time to 5-10 minutes.
Cleansing Shower Meditation
Usually, when you shower, your mind may be busy planning the day or thinking about something else. Being totally present in the shower can be a great meditation that doesn’t even need you to set aside any extra time!
While in the shower, focus completely on the feel of the water on your skin as you take some slow deep breaths. As you inhale imagine the water is bringing you positive energy, as you exhale imagine the water is washing away all your worries and concerns. Continue breathing in this way throughout your time in the shower.
Pour tea or coffee into a nice cup and sit on a comfortable chair. Set aside all distractions. Hold the cup in both hands, and feel the temperature. Take a deep breath and smell the aroma. Notice the fragrance, the color, the steam... and then take a sip, feeling the lips kiss the cup, tasting the tea, noticing the sensations in your mouth before you swallow it. As you swallow, feel the liquid as it moves down your throat into the abdomen. Then take the next sip, again being totally present. After several mindful sips, you may reflect on the tea/coffee and all the processes it has gone through before you could have the pleasure to enjoy it. Perhaps you can trace it all the way back to when its seed was planted. Feeling appreciation for all the people who contributed their time, love, and energy so you could enjoy this cup of tea/coffee!
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Blessings, Love, Light, and Joy
Asra Wellness Center