April 20, 2012
Today’s question comes from Charlene in Santa Monica. Charlene writes, “I can’t meditate. I’ve tried and tried to sit there and do nothing and I just can’t do it. Following my breathe simply does nothing for me. What do you suggest?”
Thank you for your e-mail and question. I don’t think you’re alone. There are many people who have a very difficult time meditating. In addition, different times, especially when the experience in the moment is unpleasant, can shade our experience of meditation. For example, if I were to have started meditating when my grandfather passed away, it would have colored the experience of meditation differently than let say if I started when I was having a baby or getting married. Whatever is going on in your life will be revealed in your meditation. I’m not sure which styles or techniques you have used in your meditation or if you work with a teacher. Having a teacher is very important because they can guide you during the unpleasant times. Here are some other suggestions for now: try to count the breath where you feel yourself inhale and exhale (that would be 1), follow the next inhale and exhale (2), and the next (3 and so on). Whenever the mind wanders, be very gentle as you notice (the act of noticing is being mindful), and then welcome yourself back to the breath and the count. Try this for 5- 10 minutes to start for at least 3 weeks. Use a timer. Another suggestion is to practice a different kind of meditation altogether with a mantra like a kundalini meditation. Follow the inhales and exhales again and say to yourself “Sat” as you inhale which sounds like “But” and say “Nam” on the exhale which sounds like “Nahm” on the exhale. Sat Nam means “Truth is my identity and that identity is God or spirit”. It is okay for your mind to be busy. Be gentle with yourself and begin again. Do this for the same amount of time for at least 3 weeks. Get back to me and let me know how it goes. Good luck!