We live in a world where we were wired to be constantly thinking. In fact we were born that way, it kept us safe on many levels in our life. We were always thinking about where we were going to get food next, where to find shelter, procreation and keeping our species alive. Then through the centuries we added more things to think about, money, education, wars, politics. Now we are in my opinion at our worst so far, we are constantly thinking about what will happen. We are currently in the middle of a pandemic, political up-roar, and an entire shift in thought. Our children are being taught through computer screens, therapists are meeting with people over the phone, doctors visits are virtual. We have so many devices to manage and patterns of thought going through our heads at any given moment of the day it is no surprise to me that I so often here, “Hannah, I cannot meditate.”
We have forgotten how to self – soothe, we have forgotten how to even know if we are in the moment or not. Our minds are constantly swinging from one thought to the next. We are just doing what we have evolved to do for survival. Habitually keeping our minds busy and in a constant state of “fight, flight, freeze, or fawn” mind states.
So where do we begin? After years of evolving and developing, racing thoughts, high anxiety, high pressure, and survival skills, how do we meditate?
First, I want you to know, you are not alone. This is a normal problem that has existed for as long as humans have been around. I suggest starting with placing your right hand on your belly and your left hand on your chest, what do you feel? Notice if you can connect with the place in your body where the breath is present. Notice how the body moves as you breathe in and as you breathe out. Stay here for three minutes and just connect do not worry about your thoughts, you may find that as you shift your attention to the physical sensations you may have less intrusive thoughts. This is a practice of learning how to self – soothe. Many of us lost this ability as we got older and started to get stuck in the fast paced society we live in today. For some it may even be because of trauma we have lost this ability. After you practice this for a few minutes, you may notice thoughts coming to the forefront of your mind, once again this is normal. See if you can just say to yourself, “I am only thinking, thinking, thinking” then re-direct your attention to your breathing. “now I am breathing, breathing, breathing.” The goal here is for me to help you understand that our thoughts will not have all the power if we do not let them have it. Through this practice you will slowly learn to control your mind and let go of thoughts. My hope is that you will slowly learn how to self – soothe yourself again. This is about changing our relationship to our thoughts and the patterns of thinking that cause further harm, further anxiety, and unhealthy self soothing or coping skills.
The baby in the womb was rocked to sleep and soothed by the movements of the mothers body, watching the breath move in and out of the body is a very similar feelings.
Give it a shot, remember, thoughts are normal, you are not doing anything wrong.
May all beings find comfort today.