Many of us in the West have overly busy minds, constantly churning with our to-do lists and questions about what is going on around us. Meditation is sometimes understood as emptying or clearing the mind. As I speak about it here, it is neither of those things but rather focusing the mind on an intention. An intention is another way to say a goal for your meditation time. The intention I personally set most of the time is to show up. You might be surprised how powerful that is- remember the law of 1% improvement!
The purpose of meditation and why I call it engaging the mind is that often we use our minds to manage and process information as opposed to their best use-perceiving, pondering, understanding. Most of us don’t have the space to truly connect to our minds because of the constant activity within them. If your mind is filled with this constant activity, how would it even be possible for your true thoughts, feelings, sensations, or God to break through? The first step to really connect to your own mind is to make some space available- this can be accomplished with a simple meditation practice. Here’s how:
Start with 3 minutes a day. 3 minutes is enough to make a difference in your day, your week, and your presence of mind. Trust in that and show up for your 3 minutes.
Focus on your intention for that day. In the beginning this should be something simple like being open and available, listening to your body, listening to God, being still for 3 minutes. The goal is not to achieve a conversation of some sort, the goal is to be open and available, in a state of listening instead of mental racing.
When (not if) you are distracted, come back to the intention. You will likely have busy thoughts. Imagine that they are boats on a river- don’t wade out into the middle of the river to stop the boats. Don’t fight your thoughts or scold yourself for having them. Allow them to non-judgmentally float by. If it helps you come back to the intention, use a simple mantra (Lord have mercy, my God and my all, or any other word or short phrase), focus on your breathing, or do a body scan starting with your toes and moving upward.
I’d love to hear how your mind engaging experiments are going, please feel free to share. Happy meditating!