When it comes to meditation, this is what I hear time and time again.
“If only I could switch off my mind.”
“My mind won’t stop racing.”
“I have too much going on.”
What if I told you that you don’t have to switch off your mind, because it’s impossible to do so?
With anxiety being a top symptom of perimenopause, more and more women are turning to meditation to help calm their mind and preserve their mental wellbeing.
However, whilst many are prepared to give meditation a go, maybe even more than once, after a few efforts, they quickly abort the practice because they can’t stop their mind from wondering.
Before I explain why it’s impossible to switch off your mind, let’s consider why you would meditate in the first place.
Meditation has been around for centuries. When practiced consistently, you can begin to enjoy a whole host of benefits that include; calm, stillness, relaxation, better sleep and improved mental wellbeing.
Another key benefit is that it teaches you how your mind works, and effectively trains you to become an observer of your own mind and thought patterns. Meditation makes you less reactive and more understanding of you and how you tick.
Meditation is such an effective tool to have in today’s fast-paced world, and especially in perimenopause when we feel overwhelmed, shrouded in brain fog, irritable, anxious and find it difficult to concentrate.
“All well and good”, you may say, “but how do I meditate if my mind is constantly busy?”
The way I teach meditation is the way I learned it; and that’s to imagine you are sitting by a roadside, watching busy traffic coming and going.
Imagine the traffic is your thoughts. Just like the passing traffic, you are simply observing your thoughts come and go. You are not engaging with them. You are not labelling them. You are not judging them. You simply let them pass by.
Because, as well all know; the minute you engage with one thought, it turns into multiple thoughts. Then, before you know it, you’ve created a whole new story line. And on it goes, getting bigger and juicier by the minute…..and this only started with one thought about that night’s dinner!!
Letting your thoughts simply pass on by, just like moving traffic, is the key to meditation.
But what happens when you get caught up in your thoughts, is it game over?
Absolutely not. It’s game fully on. The art of recognising that your mind has wondered and being able to bring it back to where it needs it to be is the key to successful meditation. And once again, you don’t label, you don’t judge or criticize yourself for having become tangled up in your thoughts.
Gelong Thubpton – a former monk and meditation guru – likens this to imagining how distraught you would feel upon losing a diamond ring, and then visualise how ecstatic you would feel upon finding it again!
It’s the same with meditation. So, your mind wandered. Don’t berate yourself. Imagine rediscovering your ring. Simply bring your thoughts back on track without getting annoyed, frustrated or critical. Revel in the joy of having re-found the stillness and let the traffic pass by again without interruption.
What should I think about?
Ideally nothing, but that’s almost impossible. In time and with lots of practice, you will be able to access a place of stillness where barely engage with any thoughts, and even if you do, you remain impervious to them.
This is when you become an ‘observer’. You know the thoughts are there, but you are not getting caught up in them.
It’s a wonderful, calm and relaxing place to be; and one that will serve you well as you continue your journey through peri/menopause.
Ready to give it a go? Try my five-minute guided video and welcome to a whole new world in which your thoughts don’t control you. Instead, you control them.