“I can’t stop thinking” – The challenge of beginning a meditation practice
“I can’t stop thinking”
“I can’t stop thinking”. These seem to be the words most commonly ascribed to the experience of beginners of a seated meditation practice. The first attempts can prove to be a superbly frustrating experience for many. For those beginning a practice, this frustration is often a reason to quit altogether.
What you won’t realize as a beginner to meditation is that the frustration one experiences in the first few attempts is a reason for meditation in itself. Like so many other things in life, your challenge becomes your purpose. However, these words are – at this point – a mere re-assurance. The practice is what will make perfection. So, practice is what one must do.
Things to observe in meditation
In the silence and solitude of meditation, thoughts become amplified. A seated meditation practice is purposed to help the practitioner slowly withdraw from outside distraction. Distractions are the experience of outside stimulation. Light, noise, touch, temperature and extrasensory energy are forces we use in a waking consciousness to construct our reality. Through practice we acknowledge and withdraw from these senses until all that is left is our awareness. With no distraction our thoughts become the only items in which to centre our awareness.
A flood of thoughts
In this state of consciousness – this place of inward perception – our thoughts can be overwhelming. With no outward distraction thoughts seem to come flooding through. An endless river of ideas and thoughts and concerns will pass over without any way of slowing them. For some, this will be the first time ever considering your inner thoughts.
The frustration felt with this experience may be due to a desire to become - emotionally - attached to each idea. As each thought is experienced as incomplete – i.e. a partial idea, partial memory or concern – there is an urge to attach oneself to the idea in order to explore and solve it. With so many thoughts, this will be like throwing an open bag of m&m’s into the air and sorting them by colour before they hit the ground.
Where do all these thoughts come from?
Perseverance pays off and the dedicated practitioner will come to a realization about their inner psyche which may not have occurred before. The flood of thoughts which first proved so frustrating and distracting are not a product of meditation. These ideas have always been. In normal waking life the stream of thought which flows through our consciousness is rarely considered. They are in fact the terrain and atmosphere of ones inner world. They are constant and constantly flowing – just as observed in meditation – at every moment.
With the speed of modern life, distractions of every form keep us in a perpetual state of stress from constant outside stimuli. Entertainment, technology, light pollution, harmful food and negative influences have formed a formidable force against the exploration of ones psyche. Our thoughts, as it is experienced through meditation, reside just below the level of regular consciousness. Our inner thought process affects our perception and experience of the world. Without observation these affects go unnoticed acting upon us invisibly. Change your thoughts and you can change the world.
How are your thoughts affecting you?
Meditation helps us become aware of our innermost thought patterns. From regular practice any individual can learn to slowly withdraw from the experience of their outside world. By reducing the attention and focus we place on outside stimuli one is able to re-centre their consciousness and observe the mechanics of their inner psyche. This is often overwhelming in that the individual is introduced to a new world of sense and experience, “the inner world”. Becoming familiar with ones mental ‘lay of the land’ is a first step in the journey of meditation practice.
Here is some information the help you start meditating today:
- Simple meditation – Getting started with your practice
- Beginner tips to meditation
- More articles on meditation