How does you clear your mind for meditation? There are many meditation practices that teach a variety of methods to clear the mind. I have tried many, many different meditation paths and have found it often times challenging to fully clear my mind. My mind is an interesting place to be. I am a bit of a creatrix, so I am constantly in thought. If I am not focused on my family, I am writing a book in my head, contemplating how I can better serve humanity, or problem solving something life has thrown at me. So when I sit down to meditate, it is not always easy to just clear my mind and get down to business.
A lama leading a meditation group I attended in Victoria, BC taught me an ancient technique. Basically, you imagine breathing in a black string. The string comes in through your nose, down your throat and into your lungs. Sounded easy enough. Everyone else seemed to be having no issues at all. Then there is me. I am sitting there picturing this string coming in through my nose. So good so far. I then pictured it going down my throat with my breath. I am an incredibly visual person, so no issue there. It was as if there was truly a black string entering my body.
And that is where the problems began. Next thing you know, I am picturing a variety of issues with this process. What happens next? While everyone else is sitting there calmly breathing, I begin coughing. Not because I had a cough, but because I was so into this meditation exercise, that it almost felt like I truly had a string in my throat. The idea of this black string flowing down into my lungs and abdomen kinda freaked me out. I had to step outside and take some deep breaths (without the imagined black string). I found it frustrating. I was not impressed with myself and I still wanted to meditate.
I won’t bore you with the details of my various failed meditation attempts. Instead I will skip ahead to what I find works for me. If I am having a good day…one of those days where my natural state is calm, centered and focused, I am able to simply place my right hand over the center of my chest and my left hand on my belly and breathe my mind into clarity and a somewhat empty space. I am not sure my mind is ever fully clear. Thoughts happen. They filter into my conscious mind.
The trick to staying focused that I have found works for me is to not judge the thoughts that come to me while meditating. An example. I am sitting in perfect stillness with excellent meditation form…and I think of a butterfly. As a writer, my mind is a vivid place to live. When a butterfly pops into my mind I truly experience the butterfly. If my eyes are closed, I will see the colour of the butterfly’s wings…I may think of the possibility held in the simple flap of a butterfly’s wings…to the more traditional teachers of meditation, they may or may not see the introduction of the butterfly as “meditation”.
As long as I still feel calm, centered, and focused, I go with it for a bit and see where it takes me. I may feel the gentle flutter of wings caressing my cheek. I may see the patterns of air movement in the sky as I sit in awe…If my thoughts being getting cluttered with daily stress, I may intentionally focus on something that captures my focus. However, if my thoughts continue to drift towards something more intense…or an intense emotion, I may give myself conscious permission to explore the emotion that presented itself.
For instance, let’s say I feel a sudden rush of sadness…I may or may not explore what is causing me to feel sad, but either way, I will choose what I want to replace sadness with. I may first allow myself to briefly feel the sadness. I may feel it as a weight on my shoulders. If it is a deep enough sadness, I may give myself permission to cry…so that I may release the body memory. When I feel ready, I will choose what I want to replace sadness with.
Let’s say I feel sad because I miss someone who is dear to me. I may feel the sadness on my shoulders, in my heart, and in my thoughts. I may let hot tears stream down my face..I may feel the loss move through my entire body…then I may choose to replace feelings of sadness with feeling peaceful. To do so, I will focus on a time when I once felt totally peaceful. I have focused on this particular mental/physical/spiritual practice enough that when I choose to focus on feeling peaceful, I will feel a “flutter” in my heart…kind of like the brush of a butterfly’s wings…
As the feelings of peace flow through my mind, my body and spirit naturally follows. Breath is the key. If you continue to hit a “stress block” you can choose to think of something that makes you feel calm. Then go with it until you actually feel calm. At peace. At one with yourself. In love with yourself. At home in your body, mind and spirit. This is my process. It works for me. I will expand soon…if you have questions, comments, or want to share your process, please do! I love hearing from you. It transforms my blog into an online community.
From my heart to yours,