What comes to mind when you hear the word meditation?

You probably pictured people sitting crossed leg, in a trance-like pose, eyes closed and lost to the world.

I’m sure you have already heard how beneficial meditating could be. I’m sure you have already made at least one attempt to try meditating!

Ah! I know what happened then.

The minute you closed your eyes and sat in a meditative pose, your mind started wandering. Past incidents and future worries dotted your kaleidoscope of thoughts, even as you tried to shake them off. You probably chided yourself for not concentrating. You wondered why something that comes so easily to some people will not come to you! Slowly the cross-legged position began hurting your back and cramping your legs, and all you wanted to do was to give up.

The mind probably told you that meditation is not for you and the body nodded in agreement! And the end result was that you gave up sooner than you started!

Do I know you?

How could I not? That “you” was me too!

How many times have we felt that meditation is only for the ascetics and not for us? Well, that is not completely right but neither is it wrong! Most people who want to meditate are unable to do so and find concentration quite difficult. But that is the whole myth surrounding meditation.

Meditation does not just mean sitting in one place and trying to concentrate. Meditation is not the ability to cut yourself off the world. It does not mean transporting yourself to another place where the mind is still and cannot think of anything. In fact, it is the opposite of all these things!

A staggering 50000 to 70000 thoughts cross the human mind per day, which means, we think anywhere between 40- 50 thoughts in a minute or about one thought per second!

That kind of blows your mind, right?

That means, that there are billions of thought processes driving through our mind, hardly leaving any option for us to keep it idle! We are never devoid of thoughts, and this steady flow of thinking is a thick filter between our thoughts and feelings, our mind, and heart. Practically, it is impossible to simply cut yourself off these thoughts!

Our mind is a tricky place. When a thought enters the mind, it tends to branch. It has the capacity to think on a lot of lateral aspects. For eg. You might have had a simple thought, like, you have to attend a party at a friend’s place tonight. Simultaneously, your mind will think about what you will wear to the party tonight, and if you chose a particular dress, it will also think of an event associated with that dress, it will think of a person associated with that event, it will think of the evening and something associated with the end of day, maybe a presentation that is due that evening, it will take you back to office and then to a colleague who’s been giving you a hard time, and maybe that you should call your boss and tell him about that colleague, the thought of the phone call will also remind you that you haven’t called your mom in quite a while!! And all this will also happen in less than a minute!

I think you get the drift.

That is the immense network of thoughts mish-mashing in your mind! Now you know why meditating is so difficult!

This series on ‘Taming the Monkey Mind’ tries to make meditation more meaningful and doable. Hope you enjoy the ride.

Read Part 2 here…Be Aware