Meditation has so many benefits to our overall well-being, peace of mind, and physical immunity. However, the process can seem mysterious. Pop-culture has provided too many images of what meditation is supposed to look or feel like that we can never seem to 'achieve' stillness. Your meditation experience is likely normal, and you are likely not doing it wrong. Find stillness easier by understanding what to expect and where to 'break the rules.'
Forget what meditation is supposed to look like. It does not need to look like a person sitting cross-legged on the floor with their hand in a mudra. Instead, opt for the most comfortable position you can be in that keeps you cozy but alert. A comfortable position might be sitting in a chair, leaning against a wall, laying down on a couch, or crawling up in a fetal position. Your eyes can be open or closed, and your hands can rest in your lap, to the sides of the body, or any way you like them. If you are uncomfortable with your posture, you will likely be hyper-aware of body pain the entire time you are trying to meditate. Your body position will thus become an additional distraction. If, during meditation, your body posture set-up is not working, move and gently return yourself to the meditation.
Meditations vary, but most consist of some point of focus. The focus of meditation might be the breath, a guide's voice, a mantra, the senses, and even thoughts themselves. Release the idea that you need to concentrate, but see if you can be a witness.
For example, during breath meditation chose where to witness:
notice the breath and how it feels during inhalation and exhalation
notice the sensations in the body when the air enters and releases.
Get comfortable with witnessing whatever you are meditating on. Witness as much as possible during the meditation.However, you will get distracted. Your mind will drift to thoughts, feelings, and sensations that have nothing to do with the meditation focus. The mind is swirling with thoughts, approximately 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day. Becoming distracted and thinking is, therefore, a very ordinary experience during meditation. Thinking is not a reflection of your ability to do meditation right or wrong. When you become aware that you are no longer witnessing, gently drift back. It can be helpful to label the thoughts you are having:
Label the thought and remind yourself you are witnessing right now. If the thought is essential, it will come back later. There might even be some experiences where the thought is revolutionary. It's okay to jot it down and then return to the meditation quickly.
As your drift, witness, drift, and witness, you may also start to question your experience. If the drifting feels constant, there is a natural tendency to label the experience as bad. If you are not feeling relaxed or calm, you might tag the experience as useless. If you feel blissed out, you might label the experience as amazing. If sitting in stillness feels so odd because you are always on the go, you might judge yourself as wasting time. Judging the quality of meditation is a natural step in the process. You may experience all of these judgments in a single sitting.
When you finally let go of judgments and return to witnessing, you have surrendered to the process of meditation. It is here where you find stillness. Stillness is in the place between your thoughts, between your breath, and between the judging. However, as soon as you become aware that you have found stillness, you are no longer in it. To normalize the experience, the act of meditation doesn't necessarily have any feeling. However, it is the accumulation of events where you will start to notice changes. Mediation creates a generalizing effect where outside of the practice, you can relax easier, respond to stress better as a challenge, and think more clearly through issues.
Mindgen can help you master this process. Go to mindgenllc.com to find free resources such as 'Instant Calm' or set up a free 20 minute consult firstname.lastname@example.org.