Have you ever thought about meditating, or even tried it, but thought you couldn’t do it, or maybe you couldn’t do it right? I have a secret to tell you:
There is no right or wrong way to meditate.
Many people believe that meditation is only stopping thoughts and completely silencing the mind. There can be so much more to meditation than silencing the mind. In fact, most of the meditation practices I have come across do not seek to silence the mind, but seek to harness the power of the mind to create something new!
For example, Lovingkindness meditation focuses on four different qualities of love: lovingkindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity. These four attitudes and states are cultivated by reciting a personal mantra (mind is: may I be peaceful, may I be loved, may I be healthy, may I be happy). When you can recite these phrases to yourself and they feel true and genuine, you move on to others in your life until lovingkindness becomes an automatic response. This meditation practice uses thoughts and word to retrain the mind rather than silence it.
Another type of meditation, usually called mindfulness meditation, asks you to consciously follow your breath. In this meditation you bring your awareness to every minute detail of the inhale and the exhale. When your attention strays from the breath (and it will!), you gently bring it back to the breath. That’s it. No stopping of thoughts, though you may notice you have less thoughts as you continue your practice.
You can also meditate by bringing conscious awareness to your physical body and its sensations. This meditation is rooted in Tantra Yoga and works very similarly to the breath meditation. We bring our awareness to any sensations happening in the moment and if our attention strays, we gently bring it back. In this form of meditation it is crucial to let go of any judgements about your sensations. No sensation is better or worse than any other, just like no inhale is better or worse than another. Again, the focus is not on stopping the thoughts, just changing your focus from internal chatter to your sensations in the present moment.
As you can see, all three of these meditation practices involve thoughts of some kind. The key is to bring your attention to the INTENTION of your meditation rather than allowing your thoughts to spin randomly.
So next time you think about practicing meditation, just remember, there is no right or wrong in meditation! So go ahead, give it a try!