Quieting the mind is an interesting concept but can seem a near impossible task.

Reading and learning about meditation made me realize my own mind was always racing. I could quickly and easily be swept away in worries and made up scenarios, sometimes without me even realizing it. But it felt normal, business as usual.

It can be hard to image; all I do is sit quietly and try not to think about anything and I’ll feel better and less stressed? Ok but how?

The list below are tips I’ve found that work for me as I continue to learn and practice.

 

1. Don’t worry about how long you should sit for.

Just a few minutes of quiet meditation is beneficial. There is no certain length of time required, it’s all up to you and what feels good for you. Especially if you’re just beginning. In time, you may find yourself wanting to sit longer along with the ability to do so more easily. Some days, 8 minutes feels like a marathon and others, 25 minutes can breeze right by.

 

2. It might feel weird, uncomfortable and even make you feel self-conscious at first. That’s all normal stuff.

Some of this is part of trying something new and possibly out of our comfort zone. But sitting in silence can be an extreme challenge compared to how most of us feel in our daily lives where we’re always busy, trying to squeeze in one more task or errand and are constantly on the go! Recognize your feelings when they come up, “This feels too weird – What would people say if they could see me?” They are just thoughts, no need to let them control you.

 

3. Concentrate on your breath. No need to rush or control your breathing, just observe it.

As I’m breathing, I’ll think to myself:

*Inhale: Breathing in, I am breathing in
Exhale: Breathing out, I am breathing out

Inhale: I trust myself and the universe
Exhale: Good things are happening in the right time

Being aware of your breath is also a great help with quieting your mind, calming and slowing down racing thoughts. After a few breaths, think about how your shoulders feel. Are they scrunched up at all? Completely let your shoulders relax. Think about your neck and move down your body, anywhere you notice stress or stiffness, try to let that part relax as you’re breathing in and out. You might notice your breath slowing down the more relaxed you get. Awesome!

 

4. Some love silence, some love music.

A good friend of mine gave me the cd **Seven Metal Singing Bowls of Tibet from Benjamin Lobst, specifically to use while meditating. Sometimes, silence feels just right. Other times, (especially if I’m having trouble settling down) I love listening to the sounds of the bowls. I have it on my phone so I can just plug in my ear buds if needed or just let it play as I sit.

 

5. Thoughts and feelings will come up, this is normal. Just observe them with curiosity and kindness and then go back to concentrating on your breath.

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist munk and author I’ve been reading for years. In several of his books, he suggests thinking of our feelings as clouds passing in the sky. Our thoughts and feelings are constantly changing, coming and going (much like clouds). We can’t help but notice them but try not to get caught up or upset or start going too deep. We are giving our brains and body a break so just think of them as temporary visitors and return your attention to your breath.

 

We are all unique individuals so part of the process is going to be finding your own way, seeing what works for you and modifying as needed.

Continue to search for more information, read books or articles, talk to friends that practice and see what resonates with you. It’s a practice and every day is a little bit different. Keep trying and enjoy!

 

*One of many helpful suggestions for concentrating on the breath from Thich Nhat Hanh.

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Meditation, Resources

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