I had a question from a yogi after class the other week wondering if it is possible to make your mind think nothing when practicing yoga. And this is something that I really struggled with when I first started practicing yoga and meditation. It was a misconception I had and actually made me really dislike meditation.
After learning more about meditation (and there is so much amazing research being done about meditation and mindfulness), I began to connect more with the practice. Now, I will be honest, I do fall off the track with my meditation practice (more on that next post). However, I notice a huge difference in my mentality and outlook when I am consistent with the practice.
So, back to a misconception with meditating – having your mind go blank. Your brain is wired to always be “thinking.” Whether that be consciously (aka thinking about a conversation you had with someone) or unconsciously (aka your brain sending signals to continue your heart beating), it is important for your brain to be working! However, sometimes thinking can shift to negative thoughts. This is where meditation can come in and help you let go of thoughts that come up for you.
What I mean by letting go of thoughts is not attaching a story or a meaning. For example, a thought may pop into my head – I need to go to the grocery store. From there, I may start to list all the things I need at the grocery store, think about how hungry I am, or how I have no time today to run to the grocery store. So as you can see, my mind is running all over the place.
The point of meditation for me is to bring awareness to what I am experiencing right now. So, when I notice my thoughts begin to stray, I bring my thoughts back to my body, specifically my hands. Now, there are a bunch of different ways to bring you mind back to the present, but I find focusing on my hands the most helpful thing for me to bring me out of my story and into my body.
I find when I make time to bring awareness to this present moment with meditation, I am able to bring a new vigor to my day. It makes me more productive and also less reactive to when a plan changes for me.
So find your seat and sit for 5 minutes – it’s a great place to start with your meditation practice!