Deeeeeep breathing. Four counts in, six counts out. Think about nothing. Nothing.
Oh, I need to put peanutbutter on the shopping list. In for four, out for six. Think of nothing. In for four….. I should really make that gym appointment…. And out for six. Should really tell the kids to clean up their rooms….. Oh and I need to look at my income tax. In for four…..
I tried to meditate. After reading many articles stating the benefits of mediation I thought I would give it a go. I had a fulltime job that required one week of travel a month, triplets aged about 3 and a social life. Lord knows I needed it. I would create the right environment, put some lavender in the incense burner and have a go. But for the life of me I couldn’t think of nothing. The harder I tried, the more I seemed I couldn’t do it. What do you mean, think about the space between cells?? I tried guided meditation (that worked better I have to admit). I tried music. I bought meditation beads. Changed the incense. But I basically added an additional struggle to my day. And achieved just the opposite of what I wanted to.
Then I ran into a meditation teacher that told me a story about the elephant attending the fair – and it changed my frustration meditation to a meditation that I really enjoyed. As sharing is caring: here goes.
The elephant attends a fair in India. Imagine a colorful street. People dressed in reds and yellows. There is music and dancing. Smoke from the tandoori wafts and enters your nostrils. The elephant is decorated and the man riding on top is dressed to impress. Gold trinkets hang from the elephant. The elephant walks through the street and passes all the stands. Its trunk can’t help to explore. He tries to grab a banana from the stand on the left. Walks a few steps and tries to grab the apples from the right. A couple more steps and then it sways to another stand with goodies. The elephant can’t help but be distracted by all these wonderful smells. Its trunk keeps looking for things to explore and grab.
The man on top of the elephant taps the elephant on the shoulder. The trunk comes up. He gives the elephant his stick to hold. The elephant has something to do now – it holds the stick. No more trying to grab bananas and other niceties.
As you might have guessed by now, the trunk is your mind. And your mind can’t help by be distracted. By that to do list, by that random thought. So it helps to give your mind that stick. In short: it is better to think of something than to try to think of nothing.
So think of an image of where you feel totally relaxed. For me it would be sitting on a bench in the woods. I image how the sunlight shows up on the floor, dappled. I imagine hearing the leaves rustle. And how it smells. And then I say something affirmative. For me it is ‘I am at peace’. And then I start again. I think about sitting on the bench. The sunlight. The leaves rustling. The smells. And I say ‘I am at peace’. I use my meditation beads to keep track – but you can do this however way or long you want.
Do you find meditation hard? Give this a go and let us know! More tips to start your day can be found in our checklist, available from the home page.