One of the biggest misconceptions about meditation is that your mind has to be completely clear. The more you meditate, though, the more you come to realize that you can’t actually clear the mind of thoughts, feelings, and distractions. The goal of meditation, then, is to simply let the thoughts run free.
Now, you might be surprised or even doubtful about this. Shouldn’t meditation help you calm and tame the thoughts? Shouldn’t meditation help you take reign?
Resisting and trying to control the mind just leads to more frustration–just like how bottling up or suppressing negative feelings often lead to more outbursts. Meditating, then, involves taking the path of least resistance.
With meditation, we simply acknowledge and observe the thoughts, learning to let go of them rather than control them.
Here’s a meditation to help you let the thoughts run free.
Begin in a comfortable seated position. Keep your eyes open, maintaining a soft focus at an unmoving point in front of you. Feel the weight of your body against the floor, cushion, or yoga mat. Feel the length of your spine and the crown of your head reaching up to the ceiling.
When you are ready, close your eyes. Tune into your body. Notice how the body feels today. Check in to see if there is any particular body part that feels tight, fatigued, or is simply calling out to you. Do not resist any sensation, simply acknowledge and observe.
Next, tune into the breath. Breathe in naturally through the nose, and breathe out naturally through the nose. Once again, do not judge the rhythm and pace of your breath–whether or not it is deep or free flowing isn’t important. Once again, observe.
Focus on the breath for a while, returning to the cadence of your breath when you feel distracted. Then when you are ready, let the thoughts run free.
Let the mind do what it wants to do. If it wants to think about your next task or to-do after the meditation, then simply let it. If it wants to think about the past or dwell on the future, then let it. Do not be intimidated by your thoughts and the feelings it brings up–just let all these run free.
Now, do not resist your thoughts. Do not attempt to clear your head, control your thoughts, or stifle your feelings. Simply let them be. Simply add a bit of awareness and attention into them. Observe them, as though they were clouds in the sky, or vehicles on the road.
Notice how, by adding just a bit more attention into the workings of your mind, you may feel more at peace and more at ease. Remember that your thoughts do not have to be heavy, and they are certainly not tactile–they can actually be soft and lightweight, if you simply take on the role of the observer.
Continue to let the thoughts run free, for as long as you’d like. Be mindful though, and continue to hold that sense of awareness and observation as you cultivate this sense of freedom in your thoughts and emotions.
Then, slowly return your attention back to breath. You may place one hand on your belly and another hand on your chest for physical feedback.
When you feel a bit more grounded, feel yourself come back to your body. Scan your body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Then finally, open your eyes.