You have heard about the benefits of meditation and see research and studies everywhere touting this great habit. You know Oprah, Tony Robbins and even Katy Perry does it.
And yet, anytime you sit down to practice meditation, you find yourself frustrated and mad because your mind constantly keeps wandering at a million miles an hour.
TRUTH: It is impossible to completely empty your mind of all thoughts and be in deep a meditative state unless you have 1000s of hours of practice under your belt.
TRUTH: Monkey mind is completely normal and that’s how you know you are doing it the right way.
Yes. Monkey mind occurs, because meditation slows you down enough to make you aware of the million thoughts you have racing around in your head at any given moment.
It’s not that meditation brings out the monkey mind. Meditation makes you aware of the monkey mind, which has been there all along.
So what can you do to calm your mind?
- Don’t fight the distractions. Observe the thoughts. Watch them come in and go out of your mind. Let them pass through you, instead of hanging on to every thought and giving it meaning. For instance, if you think of an errand that you forgot about, just register it in your head and move on, instead of worrying or beating yourself up for forgetting.
- Focus on your breath. Or focus on the way your chest rises and falls with each breath. Or focus on each part of your body and observe it; starting with the top of your head to the tips of your toes. You will find that your mind wanders often. Once you realize that you have wandered off, come back to where you left off. There is no judgement in meditaion.
- Use a guided meditation app. If you find that your mind wanders too much, there is no shame in getting help from meditation apps. Insight Timer (lifetime free access) and Headspace (free for the first 30 days) are two of my favorite. You don’t HAVE to do it all on your own.
- Be consistent. Your body doesn’t get healthy on day 1 of working out and eating right. It takes months of practicing healthy eating and working out to get to your ideal body. Meditation is a practice and just like any skill, the monkey mind will quiet down with practice. Be intentional about meditating everyday and make it a priority.
- Stop expecting perfection. Meditation is a practice to help you become aware of your thoughts, including your own judgement and criticism. Meditation is deeply unique to the individual and there is no “perfect meditative state”. So stop beating yourself up for not doing it perfectly, because there is no such thing.
- Journal, after meditation. Journaling is a perfect way to empty your mind after a meditation, to unload everything that was brought up. If you want to take meditation one step further, then journaling is it. It helps you process the thoughts that comes up, which is vital to your long term well-being and growth. It also allows your mind to relax, because it knows that the thoughts are not being ignored, only delayed.
- Celebrate the action, not the result. All of us get way too hung up on whether or not we got the result we wanted, and forget to pat ourselves on the back that we took action. Have faith in your abilities and stick through the “monkey mind” meditations. The deeply feel good ones are right around the corner, I promise.
Tell me, were these tips helpful? Have you struggled and been frustrated with monkey mind before?
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