#MicroblogMondays: It’s Not About Clearing Your Thoughts.

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(Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.)

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One of the first questions someone asks me whenever I share with them that I try and meditate on a daily basis is something along the lines of this: Does it work? Do you actually clear your mind and stop thinking?

My answer?

Ummmmmm, no.

I’ve taken four meditation seminars now with teachers who have a LOT more meditation experience than me. And all of them have focused on the process of what they call “waking up” in meditation. What they mean is that moment when you realize you are following your thoughts, and changing your awareness back to what they call your anchor.

And honestly, until recently, though a part of me would nod inwardly… okay, change my awareness, fine… I’d have this snide thought, off to the side, what a bunch of zen hooey. Change your awareness? What does that even MEAN?

What they all mean is focus.

When you sit down to meditate, you are actually training your brain to focus on what you tell it to focus on.  You start by paying attention to your breathing. Your thoughts are all still there, in the background, like a bubbling stream (or for me, sometimes like a pounding waterfall!).

And when I drift off into those thoughts – which inevitably happens, multiple times, sometimes all the time – I bring my focus back onto my breath and start over. I “wake up.”

Meditation, then, for me, is the process of unshackling myself from my very well-worn thought patterns; the to-do listing I do, the planning ahead, the worrying about work and all the STUFF that needs to get done, the avoiding of feeling something potentially icky.

It’s not easy, I won’t lie. There are days where I struggle, and I keep opening my eyes to see how much longer I need to sit there and focus on breathing.

But on the mornings like today, when right from the start of the day the bands of anxiety are wrapped tightly around my chest and I feel disjointed and racy and scared and worried? Those 15 minutes I spend breathing and uncoupling from my thought patterns are the best minutes of my day.

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7 Responses to #MicroblogMondays: It’s Not About Clearing Your Thoughts.

  1. Middle Girl says:

    Every time I read something about meditation I say to myself, “give it a try–again.”

    And so. . .

    Thank You.

  2. Katherine A says:

    Huh, I had never thought of meditation in that way. This makes so much sense, and like Middle Girl (above), I think I’m going to have to try this.

  3. Jen says:

    Some days I would love a break from my thoughts! Or at least be in a place where I can observe them rather than have them control me. Love this post.

  4. Mel says:

    This is the absolutely perfect description: “you are actually training your brain to focus on what you tell it to focus on.” I think a lot of people don’t give meditation a chance because they believe they’re not “doing it correctly” when they’re probably closer to succeeding than they realize.

  5. JustHeather says:

    Huh.I’ve not thought of meditation on that way. You make it sound so “simple”.

  6. noemi says:

    Well said. Well said. It took me a looooong time to figure that out.

    You are a wise, wise woman…

  7. Ana says:

    whoa. you really explained it in a way that makes me (again) want to try it. the constant to-do-listing, thinking ahead—yes, that is my life and it can be exhausting.

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