Mindfulness Meditation: Struggling on the Path to the Moment

Mindfulness meditation is a particular type of secular (non-religious) meditation. It's central aim is to learn to "be in the moment" sensing your own body and the smells and sounds around you at that moment. But many people who attempt this type of meditation drift away from it after a few days or weeks because they find it very difficult to achieve even a brief time in that mental state. Why does this happen?

Profound Change

If you find yourself struggling with your meditation - your mind keeps moving towards worrisome thoughts or you cannot keep the present moment in focus - try to remember that you are trying to make a profound change to the physical connections in your own brain. I think that realising the enormity of what you are attempting with mindfulness techniques is a good way of 'forgiving yourself' when you struggle along the way.

Brain Plasticity

I recommend that you find out more about the scientific grounding behind mindfulness. This will help you to appreciate that the brain is 'plastic' i.e. that the connections between neurons can be changed over time. Your mind is not in a fixed state. This is important to know because sometimes, during the struggle to be present during meditation, it's easy to feel like you are not the sort of person that can change their state of mind. This induces a kind of 'fear of failure' that is not helpful to the process of change. Everyone can change their state of mind and this is one of the central messages of mindfulness.

Finding Your Way

Masters in the art of meditation take years and may thousands of hours of meditation before they begin to feel confident that they can find the moment. You are being unfair on yourself if you think that you have failed because you feel you have not achieved any benefit after just a few days or weeks. Any amount of time spent being mindful will help. Try to think differently about mindfulness than you do about other 'goals' in your life. Mindfulness is not a destination; there is no winning or losing; it is not a competition; their are no fixed techniques to achieve it. We have a natural inclination to try to strive towards things but what could this possibly mean in the context of meditation? In a scientific sense you may be altering the patterns of your neural connections but, for you, perhaps you just wish to feel calmer, less stressed, more empathetic. This is not something that can be forced along.

In Summary

Mindfulness can be a way to calm the clamour of your mind and find more 'inner peace'. But you need to see this potential change in context. You have spent your whole life developing certain habits and ways of thinking, so you will not change those ways overnight. Mindfulness is part of a deep learning and growing process that may have profound implications for you over time.

D.J. runs http://www.stressmindfulness.com, a website offering practical advice about mindfulness meditation. The main focus of the website is mindfulness and the science behind it. Mindfulness has been proven to be a powerful tool in reducing stress.

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