“I tried meditation, I couldn’t do it.
There were too many thoughts, I couldn’t stop thinking.”
This attitude assumes that pure meditation involves attaining a quiet mind absolutely free from thinking.
A more encouraging way to understand meditation is that it is the practice of letting go of thoughts, rather than the practice of not having thoughts.
One teacher explains us as being the recipients of thoughts rather than the author. In meditation, when the mind produces thoughts on it’s own volition in spite of our resolution to not indulge in thinking we realize that the mind has a wild will of its own. And rather than feeling frustrated that thoughts are arising, we practice shifting our attention from the given thought back to the body breathing, feeling our body breathing at the nose or in the torso.
Thankfully, this kind of practice is actually exactly what we need for daily life. We need the ability to wake up from the trance of thoughts and let them go, so we can stop worrying, stop raging, ruminating, and disturbing ourselves by indulging in and getting hooked by thoughts.
Therefore, the criteria for whether or not you were able to meditate is not about how little you thought, but about how dedicated you were to letting go of thoughts once you realized you were thinking.
Thus, meditation is not primarily about achieving a peaceful and calm state in that moment, (although this happens and we like it) but about developing the ability to recognize thinking and let it go. That ability is far more precious than achieving temporary calm.So, don’t exclude yourself from this practice just because you couldn’t achieve a state of thoughtlessness. Include yourself if you could benefit from developing the ability to let go of thoughts that distress you and rob you of being present to your life in the moment.–
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