Messy Meditations

Having Thoughts in Meditation

One of the biggest misconceptions around meditation is that it is all about a zen moment of being completely calm and serene. While this certainly can happen, the truth is some meditations are really messy.

As I’ve shared before, it’s ok to have thoughts. It’s the nature of the brain to have thoughts just as it’s the nature of the eyes to see. Meditation is not the practice of having NO thoughts. Meditation is the practice of becoming aware when our mind has drifted and coming back to a point of focus (breath, body, mantra, etc.), gently, repeatedly, and without judgment. Each time we do that, it’s like a pushup for our brain and strengthens the areas that help to reduce stress, improve focus, and enhance communication.

For example, here is a pretty typical meditation:

I start with breath awareness, then my dog Buck starts barking. I notice the barking and return to the breath. I have a few moments of just focusing on the breath. Then I think about an email I need to send. I catch myself having the thought and come back to the breath. Then I may feel hungry and think about what I’m going to have for breakfast. I catch myself and come back to the breath.

You get the idea. Sometimes, I hear my timer go off at the end of a session and I think – wait, I didn’t even meditate.

But I know through my own experience and with people I work with that if we stay consistent and stick with it, regardless how chaotic a meditation seems, our bodies always receive the most nourishing experience needed at the time. That simple acknowledgement allows me to feel connected to my body, mind, and spirit which always brings peace of mind and into the present moment. It is in the present moment where I can meet whatever uncertainty with calm, clarity, and compassion.

I’ve needed this reminder lately. With the influx of energy that spring brings and so many pending projects waiting to emerge, I’m craving order and control. But as always, I’m reminded through my practice and ultimately in life, that sometimes the messy is where we discover the meaningful.

Check out one of my favorite practices, the pregnant pause, that always helps me to bring some mindfulness to the mess.

ps. Looking to jumpstart your practice or get back to the basics? Be sure and check out the “Learn To Meditate” bootcamp – a 5-day virtual program designed to empower a meditation practice that fits your lifestyle.

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