May 2014, I believed the only way I could escape my thoughts and painful feelings would be to completely shutdown and block all my feelings. A breakdown was on the cards and I believed I deserved it. After all, other people have breakdowns for a lot less than what I’m coping with. Why not me? I wanted a break. But I kept going. (I had recently become single which I wrote about in this blog, How I Learned to Forgive.)
It was a tough time. Very painful, possibly the hardest time of my life. It does show how much emotional pain hurts when even breaking my neck doesn’t compare.
At some point during that month I made a conscious decision to change. I was no longer going to be controlled by a constant stream of damaging and random thoughts running through my head. I couldn’t think straight let alone have the ability to accomplish anything beyond the normal daily chores.
Getting rid of these thoughts was a large part of the answer. Drink worked, however it had major consequences and wasn’t the answer long-term.
I had to take control of my thoughts. What a weird sentence, ‘I’ had to take control of ‘my’ thoughts. Wait, surely if they were my thoughts then why wasn’t ‘I’ in control of them? They are in my head after all.
It was a massive insight; and it changed my life. ‘My’ thoughts were not who ‘I’ am. These thoughts were happening in my head but they were not at all representative of who I am. They were just a story, being replayed again and again.
Quickly finding it wasn’t as easy as just stopping them. It is like trying to stop a sound coming into our minds. It doesn’t work. You cannot stop it. The more you try the louder and more annoying it becomes.
Here was the breakthrough. You can change the track. So just like changing a music track you can change your thoughts. You do have a choice of what your mind is thinking about.
Now, it’s great to have this insight but how do I change what I’m thinking?
The answer was to focus on something different. You cannot think of two things at once. Try it, think of a silver car and your closest friend. You flip between the two! So we only need to drop one. Changing one thought for another.
I needed to control my thoughts to concentration and focus.
Guess what! Some one has already invented a way.
It’s called meditation.
You cannot turn the mind off, there is no off switch! So we use meditation to focus on a single thought by concentrating on our breath, feeling or perhaps listening. It doesn’t matter what you choose although choosing to concentrate on your breathing is by far easiest to start and is still regarded as the one of the best and the most used method.
Here are the 3 reasons most people do not meditate or even try to meditate.
- I cannot shut down my thoughts, as soon as I try I am constantly bombarded with different thoughts.
- I cannot sit still for 1 minute let alone 60 minutes.
- I do not know how to meditate.
There are other excuses like not enough time, fear of doing it incorrectly and cannot see the point.
Here is my guided meditation Simple Meditation to Restore Your True Self. Guided meditation is great if you’re finding it hard to focus. It’s where I started because my thoughts were stubborn. My ego would not shut up for any length of time so I had to give it something to do.
A couple tips to help your meditation.
- When you find you have wondered with a thought just smile and go back to your breath. Do not get frustrated, the mind is just doing its job.
- Do not label anything good for bad that arises. There’s no such thing as a good or bad meditation.
- Enjoy it.
- 40 minutes will not give you eight times the benefits of 5 minutes. 5 minutes twice a day has massive benefits over 40 minutes twice a week!
I still meditate every day, if I don’t my thoughts start running away with me. It doesn’t take long before I cannot sleep, feel agitated and find it very hard to relax.
Does this sound familiar?
Will you join me for a 5 day Simple Meditation practice challenge starting 7 March 2016?
Reply with ‘I’m in’ in the comments below, and I will contact you shortly.