The problem with meditation for many of us, is we learn about how to meditate and there’s a lot to remember. From your posture, to your eye gaze, to what you should think, what you shouldn’t think, mudras, mantras, all the m’s. Our life is so chaotic and full of lists and reminders as it is, that we don’t want another thing to do.

As a result, many people choose to not meditate at all. For those of us that do try to meditate, we become discouraged when we try it and suddenly take notice that our mind is a circus. A legitimate circus, with rings of fire and monkeys wearing glitter vests. And not cute monkeys, they’re like gremlins stealing kids’ popcorn and shit. We think that we must be doing it wrong. This feeling of discouragement enables us to avoid meditation altogether.

I believe that meditation, in its simplest form, is simply awareness of your thoughts.

Meditation is so simple. It doesn’t have to be so complicated.

You’re not stopping your thoughts, but instead, observing them. Think of it like this: Your mind is like a crowded side walk in NYC. You can be immersed in the crowd, in the same rush, feeling all of the anxiety, hustle and bustle, noise. You can’t stop the crowd, that’s impossible. But what you can do, is choose to slow down your walk and stand still on the crowded sidewalk and just observe what’s going on around you.

That place of observing is where you detach yourself from your ego. In life, we can feel that we are handcuffed to the anxiety we feel, the situations in our lives, the fast pace. But we’re not. We have a choice to stand still in all of that and just observe the feelings and the situations instead.

This doesn’t mean that after meditation, you won’t have the anxiety creep back in or life circumstances staring you in the face. But the 10 minutes that you gave yourself to detach from those circumstances helped you realize that they aren’t you. That you have choices. You may begin to react differently and find calm within the chaos.

So instead of avoiding meditation altogether, simplify it.

There is no right or wrong. Meditate in a way that makes you happy. Maybe call it a different name if the word ‘meditation’ is a trigger-word for pissing you off.

The benefits of observing your thoughts is life changing.

Meditate 15 minutes, once in the morning and once before bed. Take whatever position you like. Play music if it relaxes you. Then breathe. If any thoughts are triggered (which they will), pretend like they are clouds passing in the sky. Just watch them go away. And when they come back, watch them go away again.

The trick is to keep your mind (your thought process) off the moment, all the while keeping your focus (your undivided attention) on it.

Open to who you are, just as you are.

Meditation gets way more complicated, and probably for good reason, but stay here in this simple process. There is no end goal for meditation. When you sit down and take the time to try this process, you’ve already succeeded. No matter how many times thoughts arose or to-do lists popped into your head. You did it.

If you are overwhelmed or nervous about starting a meditation practice, feel free to ask me any questions at sageandsaph@gmail.com. I’d be happy to help you get started!

-Jackie Shea

And for my master meditators: How to Meditate by Pema Chodron is a great reference for a meditation guide about meditation technique, working with your thoughts/emotions, working with sense perceptions and opening your heart.

Image Cred: Afonso Coutinho/Unsplash