Try. Try again…blah, blah, blah.
A lot of people “try” meditation, which means they believe they ultimately failed at meditation or they had a preconceived notion of meditation that didn’t match their experience.
In the great words of Yoda (my kids are sick of me quoting Yoda, but you’re new ears!!), “Do or do not. There is no try.”
I think my Yoda wisdom rubbed off on my son because the other day he says, “Mom, we’re always doing something…we’re sitting…breathing…walking.. looking… thinking… closing our eyes.” And it’s true that even in meditation, you’re doing SOMETHING. It’s not all for nothing.
You’re either meditating or not, there is no trying. That’s a state of limbo that doesn’t even register as a dent in the universe.
I mention all this because the people who TRY so hard at meditation are typically the easily distracted and ironically the ones who need it most. If they’d only realize they are doing it despite distractions. Something is happening, something is being accomplished so sit back and relax.
As an over-thinker with bouts of anxiety and busy-mom syndrome, I know what it’s like to be a distracted meditator. I know what helped me. I know what can help you get over your distractions during meditation.
You won’t be entirely relieved of distractions of course. Meditation is also about changing your mind and perception of those distractions, not eliminating them.
If you don’t get distracted for 20 seconds here and there, that’s a win!
If you begin to see distractions as a natural part of meditation, that’s a win also.
3 Types of meditation that ease a distracted mind:
- Guided Meditation~ The first year I started meditating, I used guided meditations. For the most part I felt a heaping dose of floating-on-air tranquility. Guided Meditations are ideal for beginners and distracted thinkers. There’s a couple of things to note when using guided meditations: First, trust the source. This will help you really relax and put your mind at ease. There’s a lot on Youtube so beware. If you get them from a website or guru, you can read what they’ve written on meditation and view their credentials. Credentials would be a strong background/education in wellness, health, and/or psychology and even certifications. Apps are a great source, but each have their own “vibe” or theme so it’s important you find one that fits you. For instance, the 10% Happier meditation app has trusted professionals but doesn’t have background music. That’s a deal-breaker for me. Serene spa and mood music is a distraction from my distractions. Second, switch it up often. A distracted mind is a smart mind (yes, I just called you smart). This also means you get bored easily and your subconscious comes to expect what will be said next in a guided meditation (which can be distracting) and you can become desensitized to the meditation itself. Have a few sources and rotate between at least 3 different guided meditations.
- Mantra Meditation~ I have a post here and here on Mantra-based meditation (including transcendental). There are meditation coaches and experts that insist people of the 21st century need a mantra in meditation due to the fact that our brains are constantly overstimulated. A mantra is a word or phrase repeated (either to yourself or chanted out loud) whenever the mind wanders in meditation. “It’s like giving an untrained puppy a bone to chew on”. This is like strength training…repetition builds muscle. Each time you notice your mind wandering, you repeat your mantra. Your mantra could be an affirmation you select that feels good to you or it can be a traditional Sanskrit mantra (word-sound) like OM. A Sanskrit mantra contains an additional benefit. Having a non-familiar word to focus on can be very relaxing, non-meaning, and non-stimulating. (Select a Sanskrit Mantra here).
- Progressive Relaxation~ Also called Body Scan, keeps your mind “busy” while you enter deep relaxation. Once you truly reach a deep level of relaxation, you are less likely to notice distractions or be bothered by them. Body scans begin as a typical meditation, although I like to do them lying down, and instead of focusing on breath you methodically scan your body beginning with your toes. Squeeze your toes…and relax. Work your way up, squeeze your calf muscles…and relax. Continue all the way up to your face muscles…and squeeze…release and relax. At the end, you can visualize a wave of relaxation or a golden, healing light flow throughout your entire body, releasing tension.
These types of meditations are an exercise in strengthening your focus muscle. It’s almost as if they give you something else to distract you with while cultivating the relaxation response. They are tools.
Suppose you were dropped off on a deserted island without a single supply. The struggle would get very real. Now, imagine you were dropped off on the same island with more than enough supplies. Big difference. There are times when sitting down and simply meditating feels a lot like being marooned on an island minus supplies for survival. Get. Me. Out. Of. Here!
The types of meditation above are your tools; your supplies so you don’t feel abandoned in that great, big beautiful brain of yours and don’t become lost in your distractions.
Intentions. Before or during a meditation, set an intention or ask a question. This serves as incentive to reach another place besides your conscious thinking-mind distractions. You have an inner wisdom. Maybe you want clarity or insight on a current issue in your life.
The purpose of an intention is to plant a seed in your subconscious that will pop up during mediation or later. It gives your mind direction during a meditation.
Visualization: Some guided meditations are heavy on the imagery and transport you to another place. (I have one here.) The more detail about the place, the more your mind engages in the process and utilizes your senses rather than your thinking mind. Also, the less distracted you will be when you’re focusing on a place and the feelings, sounds and sensations that arise there.
Any meditation will do wonders for you! If you decide to practice basic meditation such as mindfulness meditation, you can focus on the colors and shapes you see behind your eyelids in order to keep the distraction minimal.
Realize that distraction comes and goes, sometimes depending on the level of stress you’re experiencing in life. Distraction is never a sign you’re not cut out for meditation. It’s not a sign that you didn’t meditate even if it was thought, thought, thought. You’ll find pocket of peace to slip into. You’re growing and stretching that meditation muscle…always.
Peace and Be Well,