10 Jul A Meditation To Tame The Wandering Mind
When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is look at my phone to turn the alarm off.
A thousand thoughts flow in and out as I make my way towards the bathroom to brush my teeth.
I see the bright green color of my toothpaste, and just as I involuntarily spread it on my toothbrush, noticing how it sparkles under the tube light, my mind starts thinking of the day. And then I realized- “How can my thoughts hop from one topic to another,this fast?.. Don’t people slow down and take things easy in the morning (especially right after waking up)?”
” How can I achieve peace in life if I can’t tame my wandering mind? ”
With meditation, I realized that this is perfectly okay.
Distractions are thoughts or feelings that come and go in our mind. It tends to happen to us when the mind is given one single task to focus on, like brushing your teeth. The best thing to do is to watch them as if you are watching a parade, but not part of one. Allowing them to come, instead of trying to block them is actually helpful. This way you can easily release them back into the “parade” without having to dwell or even reflect on them. This is calling “Letting Go”.
Because distractions are like impulses, focusing on your breath and grounding yourself in the moment is a great way to anchor the wandering mind. When the roots are deep, thoughts can sway back and forth, but you will be centered in what the moment holds.
Breathing Meditation To Help The Mind:
Step 1: Get into a composed posture, by sitting erect either on a chair or a cushioned surface on the floor. Ensure that your buttocks are supported by a cushion or a low stool; and your back is erect yet comfortable. Ensure that your knees are lower than your hips for both cases. For floor: If you are sitting on the floor, then let your knees touch the floor; you can adjust the height of the stool or arrange the cushions until you feel comfortable and well supported. For chair: If you are sitting on a chair, sit away from the back of the chair so that your spine supports itself. Place your feet on the floor, with your legs uncrossed.
Don’t try to fix anything, be relaxed with whatever state of mind you have now.
Step 2: Experience your body, Allow your mind to focus on your physical sensation. Feel the weight of your body making contact with the floor or chair. Take a minute to feel and explore your body.
Step 3: Observe your belly, by noticing the abdomen moving you can become aware of your breathing pattern. When you do this you become “tuned in” to the physical sensations in this area. You can try to place your hand on your lower abdomen, close your eyes and notice your breathing.
Step 4: Once you’ve become aware of your belly, feel the slight stretch of the abdominal wall which rises with each in-breath and lowers down with each out breath. Understand what your body does all the way through as the breath enters your body and exits the body. Notice the subtle pauses between inhaling and exhaling and the next inhalation.
By now your mind will try to wander from the focus on the lower abdomen. This is perfectly okay as the mind’s role is to produce thoughts, plans, dreams, or roam. Relax and continue to breathe.
Step 5: Don’t try to change your breathing. Don’t try to fix anything, be relaxed with whatever state of mind you have now. Don’t engage in trying to control your breathing. Let it feel as natural to you as it did before you started this exercise. Bring the attitude of ” allowing ” into your experience. Allow your experiences and thoughts to be just that, don’t overthink or react to them.
Step 6: Let your mind be free, it’s not a mistake or failure if the mind keeps drifting. Whenever you notice that your focus in not on the breath, gently congratulate yourself- for being aware of that and return to the breathing. You could form short associations to where your mind has been roaming ” Ah, that’s an incident, or a feeling or a thought “. Then guide the awareness back to the changing patterns of the lower abdomen, come back to the intention of the exercise by being one with the in-breath or out-breath,whichever one you are in right now.
Step 7: Notice that your mind has wandered. It’s very common for the mind to bounce around during meditation; even though this will happen very often, congratulate yourself for coming back to the meditation, once you guide it back simply restart the breathing and bring awareness to the physical sensations as you breathe in and out.
Step 8: Be kind when you catch your mind wandering, as love and kindness will help you become more curious about yourself. Maybe you can look at this as an opportunity to cultivate patience. Do your best to practice kind attention every time the mind drifts away after this meditation.
Continue this meditation for the next 10 to 15 minutes.
Keep in mind that this meditation session is to let yourself become more aware of the sensations you experience. As you go deeper into those sensations, you will experience distractions. Use kindness and mental noting to gently escort the mind back to the breathing. Using your breath as an anchor will help you to focus better in life, as you are experiencing the here and now and not the past or the future.
Nehita is a mindfulness expert who writes extensively on lifestyle management, wellness and ways to lead a healthier and a happier life. She is a part of Aware’s expert team on meditation. She is also an avid artist who spends most her time dribbling amazing stories through art.