I Wish I could Meditate! Hint: You Can!
“I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one.” – Ghandi
I’ve been teaching meditation in offices, schools, hospitals and yoga studios for almost ten years. People often say to me: “Oh, you’re so lucky you can meditate. I wish I could, my mind is just too busy. I want to shut my brain off.”
The main misconception people have is that they are the only ones with a busy mind. From speaking to hundreds of people about meditation, everyone has a busy mind, and that’s okay. The purpose of the mind is to produce thoughts. The average person thinks over 40K thoughts per day. And 95% of those are the same thought. Let that sink in.
When people say to me, “I don’t have time to meditate,” I have the same response every time. I say, “Do you have time to feel like crap?” – Gabrielle Bernstein
The other misconception is that only yogi, woo-woo people make time to meditate. Also untrue. Many highly successful people in business, sports, medicine, and entertainment, have a regular meditative or devotional practice. And they often attribute a large part of their success to their practice.
The reason why millions of people meditate daily, is because meditating slows down the frequency of thoughts, and (more importantly) makes it easier for someone to choose which thoughts to think.
Meditation feels harder before it feels easier. The analogy I love is from the HeadSpace meditation app. Before you ever meditate, it’s like you’re standing downtown with a blindfold. You hear noises, but don’t see what’s going on. When you take off the blindfold, you see the chaos – this is like the first few weeks of meditating, where you notice the monkey mind. Eventually, you can become the traffic controller, and can create more order between all the people, cars, busses, and bikes. Similarly, in your meditation practice, you can choose how much attention and power to give to each thought and emotion.
Now, does that mean you become an unfeeling robot? Of course not. You will still feel emotions. You’ll even develop greater sensitivity and empathy. The difference is that your meditation practice provides a quiet safe space for an intense emotion to move through you, (proven to only take 90 seconds!) so that you don’t take it out on the people around. Your family and friends will thank you for making the time to meditate!
“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes everyday – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” ― Dr. Sukhraj Dhillon
More than Calm: The Science of meditation
Most people get into meditation to feel calm. Then, they either notice the discomfort of watching their active mind, and quit. Or, they stick with the discomfort of observing their thoughts, then see they are actually much more powerful than their thoughts. This is the moment where they start to choose their thoughts, which influences their words, actions, and ultimately their whole life.
So how does this actually happen?
Our limbic system is the oldest part of our brain. Sometimes called the “Reptilian brain”, is very reactionary. It’s involved in the fight or flight response when we become stressed. It evolved over millions of years to help us act fast if a predator was hiding in the bushes. The downside of the limbic brain is that it’s not very mature, compassionate, or intelligent. Think of the last time you yelled at your kid, your spouse, your friend, or the driver that cut you off.
The pre-frontal cortex is the newest part of our brain, and is only fully developed at 25 years old. It’s responsible for compassion, empathy, patience, reason, wisdom, insight, creativity etc. Think of yourself when you are feeling loved, relaxed, and cozy. During these moments, your pre-frontal cortex is activated.
Meditation helps you build neural pathways (think brain highways!) in your pre-frontal cortex. So the more you meditate, the more you can access states of compassion, empathy, creativity, and innovative perspectives.
How Meditation makes you a more powerful Manifestor
The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is like the door man to your attention. Your brain takes in 2 million pieces of info per day, which is way too much for your attention. So the RAS decides what to let you notice based on your attention and beliefs.
For example: Have you ever bought a car, then start noticing the same model of car everywhere? Before you never noticed those cars, even though they were there, but now you see it all the time. That’s your RAS at work.
We have trained our RAS to only see info that aligns with our beliefs. Usually beliefs come from our family, school or society. If you learned: “You have to work hard for money” your RAS is looking for evidence of this truth. However, if you were taught “You earn the most money when you express your unique gifts” then your RAS would be looking for evidence of this truth.
When you meditate, you can train your RAS. Some people call this manifesting. It’s simple neuroscience.
I hope I am building a case for how meditation can absolutely transform your life beyond feeling more relaxed.
Getting Started with Manifesting Meditations:
Three tips to get started:
- Group Meditation Challenge: There are often meditation challenges happening (I run a couple every year!) and they are so motivating! Why? The facilitator will offer you inspiring messages, guidance, and a goal. Also, knowing there’s a group of people also embarking on the journey makes it more attainable. I have one starting October 5th for free!
- Be Physically Comfortable: If you are in physical pain, you will stop. Choose a comfy way of sitting, or lying down (yes, you can lie down!). Of course the ideal is sitting with a long spine, hips above knees, on a meditation block, or pillow, but beginners are not going for the ideal. I have meditated many hours sitting up in bed. That’s a great place to start. Or a comfy chair. Eventually, you can move the floor.
- Journal: Keep track of how you are feeling before and after you meditate. Some days there will not be much change, but if you stick with it, I promise, you will have at least one day where you truly notice a difference in your mental state. Write it down. That will motivate you to continue.
How to Be Consistent
Three tips to help you stick with it:
- Keep Meditating. I know it’s annoying. Just make it non-negotiable. Like brushing your teeth, or showering. It is, after all, your mental and emotional shower.
- Celebrate! Celebration is HUGELY important to taking action. So even the smallest celebration of saying “Whoohoo! I rock!” after you finish meditating sends a pleasure signal to your brain. If you complete 3 days in a row, do a bigger celebration. Celebration can be anything you enjoy. An extra long bath. Lingering at a farmer’s market. Getting a manicure. Dream big!
- Keep Learning: Every time I read a new article, or watch a video about the power of meditation, I get excited and motivated to keep going. Katherine has shared the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza, who is SUPER inspiring! Other great resources are Deepak Chopra, Tara Brach, and Gabrielle Berstein.
I have created a 14 day meditation series called “Manifesting Abundance Meditations” which starts Monday October 5th. If you have been wanting to get started with a regular meditation practice, or deepen your existing one, this is a great opportunity! Here’s the info: https://jenniferkruidbos.com/abundance/
Article contributed by Jennifer Kruidbos