When you sit down to meditate, does it make you want to run screaming down the street with your hair on fire? You are not alone. Some fortunate people actually do have very peaceful meditation times but many of us don't. This is precisely why we need to continue to show up and practice even when it doesn't feel like it's working.
If your mind is busy chattering away through your meditation time, that is good news. Your awesome mind is working hard for you. It is doing what a human mind does. It helps you and keeps you safe in many ways. It solves problems for you all the time. Love it. Thank it.
So what can you do? It helps to ease into the quiet part of the meditation. Begin with prayer or affirmation work or maybe some journaling. Take some time to give voice to your thoughts and release some energy and give your mind an outlet.
Then you may listen to a guided meditation (stay tuned for a free download of my clients' favorite guided meditation) or take yourself through a visualization or relaxation process. This helps your mind to slow down while still having something to engage with.
Choose a sacred word or short phrase. It can be anything you want. I have known people to use: OM, one, Love, Peace anything. Do not use the word as a mantra, rather as a gentle reminder. Try to relax and put your attention on your heart center. As your mind starts to rush and become busy, use your sacred word to gently bring your attention back to your heart.
When you start to have thoughts, it is ok just allow them to float on by without engaging with them. Gently place your sacred word into your attention and let it rest. When you have a powerful moment of peace and your mind starts to talk to you all about how awesome it was to finally have a moment of peace, again place your word into your attention. If you become angry or impatient, use your word again. This word is not for you to cling to repetitively it is a gentle reminder to let go. Allow the space between uses of your sacred word to expand as you become more kind and accepting of your own mind and the distractions in your life.
We do not live in a time where it is practical to cast off all of our possessions and priorities. Most of us can't wander door to door, knowing that our neighbors will feed and shelter us so that we can live our lives of quiet contemplation. Some people who can pull that off but it is rare. Our lives are full of distractions and unexpected responsibilities that pull us away from our inner peace and the practices that bring us peace. Our greatest practice is to expand our hearts to include all of the noise and distraction and stress and gently return to our peaceful center. It is not our job to be in a state of constant grace but rather to choose to return often. When you stray, do not judge or punish yourself for being human, just return to your sacred center knowing that the farther you stray the sweeter your return.