Recently, I have been struggling to focus during my meditation. I find it hard to stop the mind wandering. Fortunately, I have found a great website that explains meditation very clearly and provides guided meditation.
I decided to go back to basics and practice breathing meditation. I could just sit down and focus on my breathing; if my mind wanders, I gently bring it back to the breathing. The website‘s description is more technical. It explains that this meditation practice is done in four different stages with an introductory and concluding stage:
- Stage Zero: After setting up your posture, you scan your body. Then you become aware of the physical sensations of your breath. Whenever your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the breath.
Stage One: Count after each out breath. Start at one, placing one number after each exhalation. When you get to ten, then start again at one.
Stage Two: Do the same as in the first stage, but counting just before each in breath.
- Stage Three: Drop the counting, and just follow the breath as it flows in and out.
- Stage Four: Narrow your focus until you are concentrating on the sensations of the breath flowing over the rims of your nostrils. Stay with those sensations as best you can.
- Stage Omega: Gradually broaden your awareness so that you’re first aware of the whole of the breathing process, then of the whole body, then your thoughts and emotions, and finally your environment. And then, when you feel ready, open your eyes.
The counting has been particularly useful. You realize quickly when you lose focus when you either go over ten or when you do not remember which number comes next.
I also started to become aware of some of the benefits of my meditation practice.
- Why would I want to clear the mind ? Most of what comes into my mind is not very useful. It is often repetitive. In addition, if it is negative, it is best to refocus on my breath. If I can avoid worrying or getting angry, I would be more content. therefore, in the case of repetitive or negative thoughts, refocusing on the breath is a clear benefit. Then, what about positive thoughts ? Will I gain more benefits from delving into positive thoughts than following my breath ? This is a challenging question for me and I would answer it both ways. I imagine that there is a place in meditation where you choose to explore certain thoughts and really delve into positive thinking. However, as a beginner, it is difficult for me to control my mind enough to stay focused on a positive thought. Therefore, at the moment, whether a positive or a negative thought crosses my mind, I decide to refocus on my breath. I am building my control muscle.
- Would I reap benefits other than improving my meditation skills ? I find it difficult to sit still and focus on the breath without distraction. If it is difficult, I am up for the challenge. I believe it will improve my concentration skills, my patience and resilience. I might even gain some spiritual insight.
- Do I receive instant gratification ? Yes, I do. When I manage to stay on the breath, I feel good. I feel more composed and serene afterwards as well. I feel I control better my emotions.