Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional and meditation works wonders to calm your anxious mind.
Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor. ~Thich Nhat Hahn
Not only have I held onto suffering long past the expiration date, I realize I've also created suffering. Looking back at the times in my life when I seemed to embrace suffering as a badge of honor - I wonder what was I thinking?! Now I believe in maintaining my peace. I intentionally don't hold on to what makes me suffer.
There are many ways to prolong suffering. Maybe you've experienced one or more of these:
- Going over and over something in your head, trying to figure out what went wrong, what you could have done differently, even wishing you could go back in time and fix it.
- Endless worrying. Not only does it creates a constant state of suffering, we know there is no going back in time to fix anything, yet we continue to allow the mind to worry.
- Choosing fear. When we get caught up in worrying or overthinking we give away the joy of the present moment and allow fear to take over.
- Thoughts and feelings are complex parts of our human makeup, and it's easy to make the mistake of believing the thoughts are truth.
Meditation is an Antidote to Suffering
Meditation is a powerful tool with physical and mental benefits. The first step is realizing you can control your thoughts (it takes practice) instead of letting your thoughts control you. Meditation is simple and easy to incorporate into your life - but you must make the time for it. No special equipment or skill is required. It simply requires you, your attention and a bit of time. Many of us get caught up in the logistics of meditation - the how and the why and then we make the whole process needlessly complicated. Avoiding or resisting - anything - is common. If that's you - no worries - acknowledge and move on.
How to Begin Your Meditation Practice
- Find a quiet place at home - inside or out.
- Set the timer on your phone for five minutes - gradually working up to longer - or not.
- Sit comfortably or even lie down, move and adjust your position as needed. Don't think you have to be perfectly still.
- Focus on your breath as you tune everything else out.
- OR focus on an image, a word, color, mantra (phrase), prayer or bible verse - whatever resonates with you.
- When you get distracted, bring yourself back to your breath and refocus.
- Know that distraction is part of the process of meditating.
- When the timer goes off, ease back to your routine, taking the peace, calm and focus you discovered.
Other Meditation Ideas for Beginners
- Walking meditation - focus on each step and notice the things around you (nature, people, buildings) and your five senses - resisting the urge to let your mind wander.
- Meditation app – I personally love Insight Timer because they offer an incredible free option, with the ability to donate to teachers you enjoy and upgrade to a paid plan. Headspace, Calm are other popular apps.
- Physical activity as meditation – yoga, dancing, running or any movement that allows you to be present with your body — is meditating.
Find a Meditation Practice That Works For YOU
- The key is to be present and aware.
- When distractions present themselves, practice letting them go and bringing your awareness back to the present moment.
- Let go of any frustration, judgment or discouragement that may come up.
- Give yourself grace.
If you need help to start your meditation journey, we're here to help. Our Mindfulness & Meditation Retreats give you the tools and guide you through the steps to get started. Let go of suffering and calm your anxious mind when you begin with your breath and discover meditation as a tool for staying calm and grounded.