We often expect meditation to carry us into other spheres, to make life easier and to silence our thoughts. However, once we sit with our thoughts, we quickly realize that it is not that simple. The question arises, "Is it just me?"
I can reassure you. Everyone has a monkey-mind, a mind that jumps from branch to branch and makes us feel like we're not "normal." But normal is that thoughts and emotions come and go, and indeed they do in everyone. Even for those who practice meditation for years, there are one or two days when it seems almost impossible to concentrate solely on the breath.
At first, however, this whirlpool of different thoughts and emotions can feel overwhelming and daunting. Quickly, the decision is made, "Meditation is not for me." Of course, the silence can be constricting at first, so you may feel like you're breaking free from the almost suffocating silence after just a few minutes. Putting all of your senses aside can be uncomfortable at first, as it goes against our very natural way of living.
We have 5 senses. We hear, smell, taste, sight and touch. All these senses help us to perceive our world more intensely and help us to go through life more mindfully. Why not also use our senses to start a meditation to facilitate abiding in mindfulness?
Music has a calming effect and so meditation or mantra music can help you get into a deep meditative state. Your mind focuses on the sounds of the music and your thoughts no longer take up your full attention.
The sense of smell has the power to catapult us to distant lands or make saliva collect in our mouths when we smell our neighbours cooking something delicious. You could almost say that our sense of smell has a memory of its own, which is why we think of our last vacation in Italy when we smell a fresh pizza.
In meditation, scented candles, incense sticks or essential oils can ensure that we absorb these soothing scents and are fully with ourselves.
Similar to smelling, tasting can also completely engage us. Just think back to the last meal where you closed your eyes at the first bite, let all the spices and herbs melt in your mouth, and let out a deep "Hmmm".
Of course, you should not necessarily eat a large portion of pasta during meditation, but it is still possible to appeal to your sense of taste. For example, you can use a mantra that you say during meditation or a tea that you drank before meditation and still taste the herbs.
You can meditate with your eyes closed, but you can also meditate with your eyes open. If you find it easier to have your eyes slightly open, you could focus on a point in front of you. For example, it could be the flickering of your scented candle or you have access to a garden or a piece of nature where you can focus your eyes on the grass or flowers in front of you. Some meditation techniques even recommend opening your eyes during meditation, so you literally don't close your eyes to reality.
Last but not least, touch plays a special role. To be embraced by a loved one or to warm yourself by the fireplace on a cold winter night - these feelings give comfort.
In the same way, this can be helpful during meditation. You could choose something haptic, such as a crystal, to give your hands something to explore. In addition, warmth is also something that can address your sense of touch during meditation. Whether it's a blanket to keep you warm, a hot water bottle to give your belly the comfort it needs, or simply your hands to warm your heart and lower abdomen.
I for one have found a way to stay more focused and relaxed with it. When I sit down on my meditation cushion in the morning, my first step is to turn on the mantras of Snatam Kaur or Deva Premal, on cold days I wrap myself in a cozy blanket, and before I close my eyes, I take a big sip of my herbal tea, which I often hold in my hands throughout my meditation.
Maybe this approach will inspire you to try meditation again. The way you like it best.