Try not to think in a very uncomfortable position. Einstein was right: “it’s all relative”, time becomes so long doing something you don’t enjoy. Who invented this torture? How is this going to bring peace? Or at least calm, please!
First of all, there is not such a thing as not thinking. That is the job of the mind: to have thoughts! You can’t stop that, the same way you can’t stop your heart from beating, or your lungs from breathing. The mind is like a river: sometimes the flow of water/thoughts is abundant, sometimes it is scarce. The key is just witnessing the thoughts, like leafs floating on the current of a river. I am not my thoughts, but an observer of them. I don’t engage and elaborate on thoughts or memories that arise when meditating. It might be my list of things to do, what happened on a previous moment (sometimes a really ancient one), getting that answer I should have said but I didn’t, or reliving a difficult situation. Whatever it is, let it go and focus on that little space between thoughts.
Stillness of the mind is a very good idea of what meditation is. That definition is frequently used in yoga. Asanas or poses are the instrument to distract the mind. It is really hard to be worried about my life while trying to get a new pose or flow with my breathing. There are so many different meditation practices but all of them bring your attention outside of your thoughts or beyond them.
Easier said than done? Yes. We need practice. A baby doesn’t learn how to walk in one day. So many tumbles, pain and crying. How many babies quit on trying? We can learn so much patience and perseverance from toddlers. They are the perfect example of being in the present moment: no traumas from previous falls, no anxiety for the future. Who doesn’t want to feel as relaxed and joyful like a kid?
“I don’t have kids’ problems”. No, but you can choose to stop focusing on that for 5 minutes a couple times a day. Tomorrow you will do it for 6 minutes and during the weekend you will do it for full ten minutes. Soon you will realize you are meditating for more than that and actually enjoying it. Giving it a try is so worthy. I guarantee!! See it like gym training: the first day you might not see changes, but day after day your muscles gain strength and begin to develop, the same way that calm invades your whole being.
I was in the worst crisis of my life when I made the decision of giving myself the gift of meditation. I know what devastation feels like, but I also discern that a land is burnt down before planting a new seed to grow. Depression, divorce, financial problems and I was there paying for a 3-day workshop. I learned by the hand of a loving teacher, shared my experience with others like me, got lost in my thoughts and back to meditation, fell asleep and back to meditation, cried out and back to meditation over and over again.
Persistence could be my middle name. I used to wake up ten minutes earlier to be able to meditate before going to work. At the office, I came back promptly from lunch or locked myself in the restroom to have ten minutes for meditation. At nights, I also spared 10-20 minutes and my rest became deeper than before. Going to a park or practicing while driving (with my eyes open!) brought me to sense all this peace and more connection, even if it was noisy around.
By the way, noises and other distractions are hard at the beginning. What is always against relaxation is a heavy meal, alcohol or any kind of intoxication. Those foods that are hard to digest or make you drowsy turn out to be the worst disturbances. Regarding nutrition, I applaud small dishes and especially plant based diet, not necessarily exclusively vegan but huge yes to more vegetables.
I can tell a couple of weeks after that I finally awakened one morning and smiled because the first thing that came to my mind was not any of my problems, even though they were still there; I laughed out loud when I realized they were the second thing I thought of. I was able to laugh about that because I am not a thought, a situation, a tittle, someone else’s opinion, etc. Those are only experiences we are having in a body made of flesh and blood.
What am I then? I am that unchanging and eternal presence within me and beyond me. I am peace, love, joy, bliss, and so much more good stuff. I am that infinite and indescribable something. There are not enough and precise words to tell, but you can experience it. That is my invitation to you. I invite you to give yourself the opportunity to try it in a continuous way.
I have found that every answer is deep inside me. Wisdom, love, appreciation, gratitude, creativity… literally everything! There is nothing to search for outside of you because you are happiness itself. It is not that you have it, but you ARE what you are looking for.