Here is a simple ‘meditation’ exercise that might help with the practice of
-Set aside 5 minutes.
-Sit somewhere you are comfortable and without too many external distractions.
-Set a timer if you can so you aren’t thinking about how much time has gone by.
-Now just sit.
Set an intention to let go and not get attached to any thoughts that come to mind.
Thoughts will come for sure…..(it isn’t a competition to have the least amount of thoughts as possible.) The practice here is to stay committed to letting go of the thoughts that will likely come to you. To notice them as soon as you can and in that moment ‘let them go’. For that entire 5 minutes all you do is notice when you start thinking about something and when you do…..try to ’empty’ out. No matter how important the thought might seem or how entertaining it may be…..walk away from it.
A good technique is to let your breath fill your focus. Each inhale and exhale you bring your concentration fully to this simple act. After using the breath for some time, if you feel a sense of stillness, see if you can let go of following the breath and simply ‘be’ quiet. When a thought comes (as it will), perhaps return to the breath or let go of the thought and return to stillness.
See if you can have a soft and gentle heart/mind with this practice. No judgement about the fact that you aren’t ‘doing’ or ‘achieving’. No criticism on the amount of thoughts you have or awkward mental discomfort that may arise. No praise for doing it ‘right’ since you actually can’t do it wrong or right.
Here is a great visualization a teacher shared with me that helped me develop my practice.
Imagine that you are sitting underwater at the bottom of a peaceful river. Up above there are boats traveling down the river. These boats represent our thoughts…..a constant stream. Sometimes I find that I have risen up and jumped on a boat/thought and am half way down the river. Instead of getting mad or judgemental, I simply notice I have gotten attached to a thought and floated away on it. Then I choose to get off the boat/thought and I slip over the side and back into the quiet waters. The process of floating down down down helps me drop back into myself…..down down down. And then I come to resting again quietly below. There are times I would already be on another boat before I even reached the bottom. I would lovingly choose to get off once again starting the process of slipping over board into the quiet waters and sinking below.
You can play with this metaphor and any other metaphor that might work for you. As with any practice it is about what works for you and not about doing what everyone else is doing. Use any exercise as a springboard into yourself and your own needs.
Remember meditation can be enjoyable and fun. It doesn’t need to feel austere or punishing.
Just see what you find and how you discover it for yourself.