Meditation never seems to work for me…

Meditation never seems to work for me. I will spend twenty minutes meditating, them get up feeling exactly the same, my mind not being any clearer than it was before. Are there any good ways to clear your mind besides meditating?

Your meditation is going exactly how it should. There is no right or wrong in meditation, at least in the beginning.

You are in the stage of meditation, I call “meet the monkey mind”. The meeting is one of shock and awe. You never really know how busy your mind is until your first meditation. This is insight into your mind. This is good.

A daily meditation practice will slow your thoughts down gradually, like a steady trickle of water can cut a gorge into a mountain.

The only task you have is to notice when you have been chasing the monkey because he stole your hat. Remember the hat is unimportant. Gently bring yourself back to the focus of your practice.

At this point in your practice, you are training your attention. You notice when you have gotten lost in thought and gently bring your attention back to your focus.

All the while, monkey mind is dying for your attention. Allow yourself to feel some compassion for him and bring your attention back to your point of focus.

Your are building the muscle of attention. You are learning concentration, which is the foundation of many of the advanced practices.

As you are better able to concentrate your attention, you may begin to notice that your thoughts are slower and less frantic. Over time, gaps of silence will form between thoughts.

Eventually you will have long periods of inner-peace and you never had to suppress a thought to get there. Have you ever tried to suppress a laugh? How well did it work?

Your goal is one of alert stillness. Awake and calm. And it all starts with meeting the monkey mind.

©2017 Stephen L. Martin

Photograph of a Buddha statue under the Bodhi Tree at the Seema Malaka temple in Colombo by AKS.9955. CC BY-SA 4.0

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