Is it quite common to experience difficulties when beginning to learn to meditate?
I'm not sure I'm actually trying to meditate but the closest approximation I can give you is that I'm trying to learn to still my very active mind at night and listen to what arises. Sort of tune in to my head chatter.
A few times now when I've come close I've had a sudden wave of panic and its really unsettled me. I don't want to stop trying but wondering if this happens / has happened to others too.
It isn't the easiest thing to do.
The advice I've heard is not to try and clear your mind, but to let thoughts drift through and acknowledge them but then let them go.
Personally I find guided meditation or visualisations help me more.
My favourite four are
- imagine light coming up through the ground and lighting up all your chakra points in their respective colours as it works it's way through your body, and then once it reaches the top chakra, bathing your whole body in white light.
- visualise breathing in white/golden light/energy and breathing out murky/black light/energy
- visualise yourself in a calming location (either somewhere you know or an ideal) and making yourself aware of all the smallest sensations, eg. smells, temperature, touch
- or a more physical one to be done lying down, work your way up your body tensing and relaxing each part of it in turn (feet, calves, thighs, etc) and feel yourself get heavier as if you are melting into the floor
I find I can go from any of these to a wonderful meditative state.
I love focusing on a place and mentally looking around. I used this method in preparation for and during labour, and chose a beautiful walled garden we had been to with a dovecote, orchard, bees and chickens.
The focusing on an image of a candle flame always freaked me out
MOG has given you some great advice. Just wanted to add that if you feel panicky try to turn your focus to your breath and keeping it smooth and even (or stop of course if you are feeling uncomfortabale). It may be worth exploring some breathing techniques to calm you before meditation. Meditation is a state, rather than something you do - what you are trying to do is relax so that you can enter that state, if that makes sense. So, try and work on the breath and relaxation, and then meditation will follow.
Thank you mostly.
I love the sound of breathing in light, will give these a go tonight.
As a long time meditator, I recommend going to a class/group to get going, it makes your own practice a lot easier ! Breathing based methods are very good, long, slow and smooth breathing, just gently put your attention back on the breath over and over and don't worry about thoughts coming and going. Hope that helps !
Have you tried moving meditation? I think it comes easier to the Western mind that sitting there visualising white light and omming. Examples of moving meditation are:
walking along a flat beach - anywhere you can get your walking into a rhythm and not have to focus on where you are going
walking a labyrinth - you can make one in your back garden very easily, or indoors with masking tape if you have enough room
Basically moving meditation is any movement that is repetitive and requires little input from the conscious mind. It allows the mind to settle, and after a while to lose all focus and enter a meditative state. Might be worth a try?
Worldgone- I can relate to that actually! Do tend to enjoy repetitive tasks for that reason.
Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm finding that I'm now falling asleep within seconds which is good but not what I intended. Will try to make time during the day for more practise.
world I've always done that but never thought of it as meditation. Makes sense.
Basic everyday mindfulness is great practice too - just being aware of either body/emotions,feelings/mind etc. in the present moment can bring a lot of peace.
I actually got a panic attack when I was doing mindfulness breathing meditation once. I was just a beginner. I started focusing too much on my heartbeats and got panicky this way. It might sound strange I know but that was really just what happened. I think visualising as MOG described, or contemplating on a verse... like a koan, helped eliminate the panicky feeling.. basically a little something to take my mind off me. I have been practising meditation again the last few months with the help of a meditation app on my tablet and now I can do mindfulness meditation fine. I don't get panicky anymore while I'm doing it.
If you find yourself falling asleep during meditation, you may wish to pick a different time to meditate - if you want to stay awake throughout. I find that if I haven't slept enough the previous night or have had a long day, I tend to fall asleep during meditation. As it is at the moment, I only have time to meditate near bedtime.. but I know if I picked say, afternoon or late morning, I won't fall asleep then.
Just discovered this, thanks guys! Also struggle just with sitting so walk/tun even .. Lots of free podcasts online inc my favourite Tara Brach
One of the things I really like to do, as well as guide visualisation, is to just listen, concentrate on every noise you can here, obviously works best when there is some kind of low level background noise, such as a road in the distance, voices far enough away that you can hear them but not make out what they are saying, that kind of thing.
Yes, me too can be lovely. Ditto "senses" one, focusing on what you can hear for a min, then what can smell etc etc
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