"It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you." -Buddha
1. Name your thoughts.
A recent poll I took in an online meditation group revealed that the biggest challenge people have with meditation is that their mind won't shut up. Do you feel that? Don't worry, you're not alone! The key isn't making your thoughts stop- that's just another control strategy.
One of my favorite meditation teachers, Noah Levine, tells us our thoughts are not our fault. They're an automatic function of our human being-ness and we don't have control over them. Instead of fighting with your thoughts try naming them. Here are some examples of common thought categories:
Instructions: Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Draw your attention towards your mind activity. When a thought arises, name it. Once you've named the thought, turn your attention to your breath. It doesn't matter how many times you have to do it. Each time you redirect your awareness to your breath you're strengthening the part of your brain that's auto-tuned to peace and stillness. It's like exercising a muscle- the more you do it the stronger it will get.
2. Say hello to your emotions.
As humans, we tend to focus a lot of energy on avoiding uncomfortable feelings and increasing pleasurable ones. Consequently, negative emotions become the enemy. Common ways to address negative emotions include ignoring, stuffing, resisting, and fighting. It's important to remember that you are not your emotions. Emotions are simply energy that have a physical home in the body. Instead of viewing emotions as a foes, try these phrases:
"I see you, doubt."
"Thanks for sharing, fear."
"I'm aware of your presence, anger. "