Meditating on Meditation

I tried meditation (again) yesterday.

I had one of those STUPID incidents in my life where I should have just LET IT GO. Nothing I could do to make it NOT have happened, nothing I could do to resolve it after it HAD happened, but I wanted to talk about it to everyone. CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS HAPPENED? Let’s hash it out a million times even though it does nothing but stress me out more.


But, of course, I couldn’t.

It reminded me of this time I had a REALLY rude run-in with someone at Target. I mean, this lady threw her hand up to shoosh me WHILE she was on the phone talking about how I had just cut her off (with my cart), rolled her eyes at me and turned around. AND I WAS TRYING TO APOLOGIZE. It was INSANE. And I think about that moment constantly. But I talk about it rarely because I hate myself for holding on to it. I should have let it go. I gave her even MORE power over me by holding on to it. I give her power now but I need it as an example so, you know, I’m talking about it.

ANYWAY. So, yesterday I tried to let it go. I really did. And it didn’t happen. So, I thought, let’s meditate.

I’ve tried meditating a million times in my life. It seems like – on paper – it would be something I would get into. I’m spiritual. I’m thoughtful. I enjoy zen-like moments on swims and runs. (Not on the bike yet. I still hate the bike.) But my brain just will NOT shut off for me to meditate. I’ve bought books, listened to podcasts, read articles and still…no real success.

But I thought I’d try again yesterday.

I decided to go to my front yard and do it because the weather was divine. I tried to center myself on my breathing. On the wind. On the amazingly Spring-like day in July in Alabama. Yet still, I could not stop thinking about my angst over the earlier event.

No matter how hard I tried, it would pop into my head and then I would find myself FOCUSING on it. Thinking about it EVEN MORE.


Do you meditate? Have you found any books or podcasts that have helped center you? I really think it would be useful in my life but MAN I have a hard time with it.

18 thoughts on “Meditating on Meditation”

  1. I love the calm.com app. It’s not free on the iPhone, but it is on the website. They have a seven-day how to meditate series, and they also offer guided meditation for as short as two minutes.

    I find I can’t meditate on my own, but I can listen to a good guided meditation and follow the directions (let all of the tension out of your shoulders….etc).

  2. I love meditation. I don’t know if this is the “right” way to do it but this is how it works for me: disturbance in my mind comes from avoidance, my mind’s attempt to escape pain and cling to pleasure. So rather than trying to STOP thinking about something that is painful while meditating, I use meditation as am opportunity to sit with that pain, respect it, experience it, and let it fade to its natural end. Physical example: I’m sitting, and my arm itches. Rather than scratch (try to end the pain physically) or ignore it (try to end the pain mentally), I let my full attention come to the itch. One way to do that it is to try to make it itch MORE. When my whole mental attention is focused on the feeling of this itch, it quickly fades, because I’m no longer locked in this battle of trying to ignore the pain, being reminded, trying to ignore, lather rinse repeat. When I’m dealing with intense psychological pain — especially anxiety or sadness — I try to do the same thing. Set the timer, sit, and bring my full attention, without judgement or “thinking” words, to my emotional state. Just feel the sadness and focus on accepting that right now, my experience is sad and painful. This is my current truth and it’s okay to feel this feeling. Like the itch, I find that my negative emotions pass much faster when I accept them and stop running from them. When I really bring my full attention to my emotions without negative self-talk (let go of “you’re so dumb for feeling this way”), I feel this huge wave of sadness crashing over me, then less, then less, then nothing. And then I sit with the nothing until the timer goes off.

    I don’t know if you would find that helpful. But meditation has been super helpful for me and I wanted to share in case it’s helpful to you.

  3. Oh I had the same problem for years :/ During a particular dark time in my life however I discovered Susan Piver. She has heaps of free short how-to mediation guides and other great stuff online. For some reason here this of teaching and tradition of mediation (shambala) really resonated with me. I would reccomend checking her out!

  4. Two thoughts regarding meditation and thoughts I cannot let go of:

    First meditation: I think the hardest part is realizing that this is a PRACTICE and not something you can just decide you want to do and then do it. Kind of like running, how you could never have gotten to where you are without a ton of build up, training runs, chaffed skin and soreness. Meditation is a skill which take practice and it’s on going. So the goal isn’t to sit there and NOT THINK OF THAT INCIDENT AT ALL, DAMMIT. but instead, working on what you do when the thought appears. What I hear most is that when a thought occurs, observe it. Then without judgement, let it pass you by. And try to regain your focus. And be aware that you will lose your focus again and you will need to again, let that thought pass you by, regain focus. It will be an ongoing effort, but one which still has benefits.

    Something that helped me specifically about thoughts of which I cannot let go (which may or may not help you, I think we are very different people!) is coming up with a “how can I do better next time” plan. Sometimes, I have to realize that there is NOTHING I can do because somethings are out of my control, like the actions of others, circumstances or acts of fate (or whatever). Other times it can be simply that I won’t say X in that way, or I’ll remember how doing Y seemed like a good idea but made me feel embarrassed after or something. And then when I start to beat myself up, I remind myself that I cannot change the past, but I can do X in the future to help avoid it from occurring. Or I can’t change the past and nor can I control Y and since it was out of my control, I need to forgive myself. Like meditation, it took a lot of repetition and practice, but I actually found it helped me to be kinder to myself in the outset; eventually that thought process became the alternative to beating myself up.

    Good luck however you choose!

  5. The only way I come close is going to yoga. I go for fitness but it is so hard (hot power yoga) that for an hour I do manage to leave everything off my mat. It takes the physical exertion and concentration to get there.

  6. I am a yoga teacher, and I am the first one to tell you I suck at meditation.
    I am daydreamer with short focus span. So, sitting still and meditate is REALLY tough.
    There are so many different way to practice meditation. My favorite is walking meditation. You can go to trail and hike and walk around and meditate. Being in nature clears my mind for me. Something about being in fresh air and sink myself deep in nature makes me focus on simply breathing. If you don’t have time to get out the house, you can simply pace around the house as well. Running meditation is a legit form of meditation as well. And, you probably don’t realize it, but I would believe you meditate a little while you run.
    Also, yoga was actually created to prepare for meditation. Yoga makes you move your body in order to prepare for the meditation, and also it is a part of moving meditation. To me, yoga gives me calmer and clear mind and gives me the focus on myself inward. That is why I love it so much. Practicing yoga is really the only way for me to have calmer and clear mind for me. When I teach yoga, I do emphasize the mantra, breathing, and meditation part of it. Yes, I teach power yoga, but to me, yoga is about making the space in yourself to bring the new energy in. So, I relate my yoga class to that a lot.
    Pew! Sorry, this comment got really long! Anyhoo, my point is someone like me, who teaches yoga and meditation, who people think I might be better at it, admit that meditation takes practice. I’ve heard it takes YEARS to master it. I just simply accept where I am in my meditation practice (that I suck at it), and just be present in it 🙂

  7. Yoga. It works for me because I’m a total klutz. I find that ultimately I have to spend so much mental effort to keep from falling over, I can’t think about the argument with my sister, or the frustration with potty training or anything. It’s all “don’t fall down, don’t fall down, don’t fall down” It’s a weird mantra but it works for me. 🙂

  8. These comments are awesome. I just learns so much!

    I came to say that guided meditation is how I’ve started, because otherwise my mind wanders too much.

  9. When I’m in the holes you’re talking about, I read. If I’m in someone else’s head I can’t be in my own.

    Guided meditation is good stress relief, none of the rest works for me so I’m enjoying the comments here.

  10. Headspace is a GREAT app for guided meditation. I was just like you until I started with it. The “trick” about those pesky thoughts is that trying to dismiss them when you’re meditating is sort of the opposite of meditating. The idea is that you just let the thought exist as it is. Recognize it. Let it be. I dunno if I’m explaining it right, but it was great for me to start out with. Here’s the link if you want to check it out: https://www.headspace.com/ Good luck to you! (Also, I had a similar incident at Target. This lady and her grown-up daughter were wandering around the crowded freezer veggie aisle, cartless. The mom seemed very confused/dismayed that she couldn’t find what she was looking for. I waited for a second as she stood right in front of the section I needed, just staring into that section blankly and tapping her chin. So I said, “Excuse me, do you mind if I just pop in grab some spinach?” And kind of darted in and out in less than a few seconds. The woman sighed hugely and threw her hands up. Then looked at her daughter and said, “Can you believe that rudeness?!” And I tried to apologize, even though I didn’t think I did anything wrong, really, but she just rolled her eyes and waved me away! WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE? Anyway, I feel you on that one. I still get annoyed/embarrassed when I think about it.)

  11. I totally get this! I wish I could meditate but have had zero luck so far, I just cannot switch off. Let me know if you find the secret!

  12. My daughter suffers from anxiety and her therapist suggested Headspace. She really likes it.

  13. I have tried meditation a bunch of times too and it never works. I can’t shut it off or let anything go either. I stick with reading and losing myself in a story or watching a great movie. That’s my meditation.

  14. I’m the same way – if I have a bad run-in with someone, I have the tendency to replay the event over and over and omigod again?, over, in my head. It sucks and doesn’t help with the anxiety. I’ve been trying meditation (with calm.com) and it’s not exactly gelling but I’ve been told that it takes practice. So, don’t give up! It supposedly does wonders for situations like these.

  15. I recommend headspace too. They have this progamme where you meditate 5 minutes for 5 days, then 10 minutes for 10 days etc. It’s a guided meditation where the guy keeps telling you it’s NORMAL for your thoughts to wonder off and that you’ll get better at it. It’s worked for me -I’m still not great at it but I can control my brain a bit better and it does help with the anxiety and the insomnia 🙂

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