Understanding what to do when you close your eyes to meditate
The next misconception we are going to bust is the idea that meditation is a tricky, inconsistent, and hard-to-figure-out activity. Actually, meditation is more systematic than magic—kind of like swimming or solving a Rubik's cube. Once you learn the steps, everything else just works itself out.
Let's look closer at the system
A few years ago, I taught myself how to solve the Rubik's cube. And I realized that solving the cube was very similar to showing how meditation works as a system. Check it out below. It's only a couple minutes long and very helpful for understanding the system that is meditation:
As you saw in the video, rest is the foundation for all of the other benefits that are initiated by meditation. As your body becomes more rested, the immune system, digestive system, reproduction system, and happiness tends to fall into place.
This is one of the reasons behind sitting comfortably. In order for your mind to rest, your body needs to be relaxed. It's hard to have a "settled" mind in meditation if your body is busy actively holding a rigid (and often uncomfortable) meditation position of a straight back and crossed legs.
Let's go back and review or definition of meditation:
Meditation - (noun) a comfortable, seated, and consistent eyes-closed practice of experiencing present moment awareness and, when possible, quieting the mind.
Since "comfortable" is in the definition, you want to make that a priority. So feel free to be as comfortable as you want without lying down.
Next, you're going to practice making your mind as comfortable in meditation as you made your body. And the way we achieve this is by encouraging our mind to do what it's planning to do anyway, which is to have thoughts.
In other words, we're not going to attempt to stop what is next to impossible, which is to keep our mind from thinking. And the irony is, the more we stop trying to stop the thoughts, the quieter the mind will become.
Make friends with your mind
It's going to feel a bit awkward at first, but you're going to practice making friends with your thinking mind. Normally, we have a tendency to judge the thinking mind in meditation, as some thoughts may seem unmeditative or downright inappropriate. And that makes us view the mind as an enemy or obstacle to finding the inner peace. But...
Today, you'll practice doing the opposite of what you may want to do, which is to attempt to push the thoughts away. Instead, hug it out. Embrace the thoughts. In other words, instead of rejecting your busy mind, for 10 minutes, you're going to practice treating all of your thoughts as appropriate, no matter what they are about.
Remember to sit comfortably, set a soft alarm, and when you close your eyes. Then begin to rest your awareness on your easy and natural breathing, and whatever unrelated thoughts you have will be welcomed by you. By approaching meditation in this way, you'll position your mind to settle, or get a bit quieter. When the alarm goes off, you're done. Try it out.
By allowing your mind to think freely, you'll increase the chances of it settling. Tomorrow, we're going to talk more about what that looks like when you have a settled mind. Hint: it's not what you think.
For now, you're done with meditation. Great work! Tomorrow we'll meet at the same time and pick up where we left off.
Post an image that represents the way you're going to allow your mind to think, and make sure to tag #meditationkickstart so the beginmeditating community can encourage you as well.
Sample accountability post