Myth: meditation comes easily and naturally to Buddhist monks. It's only difficult for the rest of us unenlightened clods. Fact: monks in China, Japan, and Tibet have been writing about the difficulty of stilling the mind for thousands of years. Everyone has a hard time meditating.
But I do try. I have to work to stick with it, because I want the benefits that come from having a meditation habit.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you calm that busy mind and start gaining control over your thoughts and emotions.
Set the bar very low.
I was reading an excerpt about meditation from Tim Ferris’s book "Tools Of Titans". The gist of the chapter was hey, don’t stress about how bad you are at meditating. (It’s definitely not just me!) Instead, set the bar for success so laughably low, that there is no way that you will not succeed.
Here is the easiest way to start:
Your meditation can consist of one single breath. Take one breath, focus completely on your inhale and exhale, and then you're done.
One single breath.
You cannot fail at one breath.
You can gradually increase this extremely easy meditation from one breath to two, then to two, then three, etc. No rush.
Set a timer.
I have moved beyond the “take one breath” stage, and can now sit in meditation for up to seven minutes. Granted, my mind is wandering all over the place for five of those minutes, but there will usually be two legit minutes of calm and focus. Totally worth it. I set the timer on my phone, get into position, and start breathing in and out, until the timer goes off. I make myself sit there, no matter what. Sometimes, that is ridiculously hard, and other days, it's not hard at all. It just depends on the day.
Give your mind something to focus on besides breathing in and out.
Mantras (words or phrases that can be repeated mentally) can be very helpful and help train your mind to get on track. For example, you can inhale and think “calm”, then exhale and think “release”; inhale with “I am filled with healing energy”, then exhale with “I breathe out all negative energy”.
Hold a crystal.
Focus on the weight of it in your hand, the shape, the feel of it. A river rock or pebble from the driveway will work, if you don’t have a semiprecious stone such as quartz, amethyst, or other gemstone.
Place a single drop of lavender oil in your palm. Briefly rub your hands together, then bring your hands to your face, and breathe in the fragrance slowly and deeply. Repeat taking slow deep breaths, breathing in the fragrance, until you feel calmer. You’re not limited to lavender oil. Sandalwood, frankincense, clary sage, patchouli, and rosemary are all fantastic oils for meditation, because they help you feel more grounded and relaxed.
Drink green tea.
Chinese Buddhist monks drank green tea to help fend off sleepiness and help sharpen their mental focus. The health benefits of green tea are well documented, and that includes improving mental focus and brain health.
There are people who make a meditative ritual out of preparing and drinking tea. This would be considered an active meditation, and is great for people who have a hard time sitting still. Here is a link to an article on how to do a tea meditation.
Keep doing it.
This is what makes it a habit. When meditating becomes a habit, you will automatically be able to handle stress as it comes, because you will have trained your mind to know what to do.
Stick with it, and over time you will see results.