Your mind is busy?
Mine too. Welcome to the club. Meditation is just for you!
This is something I hear often when I speak about Meditation to both athletes and coaches.
The human brain is fascinating. Its power and capacity seize to amaze me and it is constantly on the go. We won’t go 3 seconds without “thinking” and this is what makes us human. However for many, this is the reason that they stay away from Meditation.
“I don’t like to be with my own thoughts in stillness.”
“I can’t sit still for very long.”
“I can’t deal with the quiet.”
“I get too antsy and I think about everything that I should be doing.”
“I can’t get my mind to shut off.”
“My brain just feels all over the place.”
All of these are valid.
In my opinion, these responses are all the more reason to try meditation. It’s a common misconception that to meditate means we need to stop our thoughts.
News flash, you can’t.
If your thoughts stop, you are most likely no longer alive. The goal of meditation is to gain insight and awareness about your thoughts and to change the relationship you have with them.
Have you ever noticed your mind creating a story or a thought about your own life that is utterly not true? This happens all the time. Yet humans have the ability to know and determine if a story or thought is true or not. We have the ability to question it, push back, or change it. This is the power of both the mind and our ability to work with it. This is the power of AWARENESS.
Now this is anything but simple and easy.
But Meditation provides us the time and the space to practice this. Meditation is a formal Mindfulness practice that allows us to use what I call our “Mindfulness Muscle.” It is a practice that is the training ground for working with your mind.
Maybe you’re wondering, Ok, well where do I start?
My mind is very busy and the idea of sitting to Meditate isn’t appealing. Maybe the idea even makes you nervous. Read on. Here are 3 things I emphasize when working with athletes through Meditation:
1) Meditation does not have to be seated and in silence.
There are many ways to meditate. You can lay down so that you are more comfortable or meditate while you walk. There are also many movement based mindfulness practices such as yoga that can be a stepping stone to a more formal or seated meditation. Meet your mind where it is and find a way to meditate or simply use your MINDFULNESS Muscle that works for you.
2) Throw out the idea that you have to stop your thoughts.
I can assure you right now that if you take up meditation you will experience distraction, going down the rabbit hole of thought loops and potentially dozing off. It will happen. The key piece of meditation is how you respond to this. Dropping the expectation that we can or want to stop our thoughts can tremendously help.
3) Get curious, not critical.
See distraction as an opportunity to get curious. For most of us our “go to” reaction is to get down on ourselves. We get critical over the fact that our mind is too busy and that we get distracted often. See if you can change your perspective and get curious about this. We are quick to label things as good or bad. It is not a BAD thing that you get distracted or that your mind is busy. Can you turn towards this and say “Huh.. that is interesting!” instead of getting critical.
If you're interested in trying this out for yourself, start with my Introduction to Mindfulness Course. This is a foundational course that will set you up in understanding WHAT Mindfulness is and HOW to practice Meditation.