On most days we either begin or end our day with a meditation practice. It has been hands down our most consistent and reliable resource for mind-body health and happiness. We always feel better afterwards. That is not to say that we don’t experience the typical mind chatter that so often accompanies the endeavor of quieting one’s mind. Following a recent meditation, we shared with each other the mind chatter that we experienced and we had a good laugh over it.
Over the past 20 years of teaching meditation we have found that it is this chatter that stops most people from meditating. Rather than embracing it as part of the journey it is often seen as a sign of personal inability to quiet the mind. During meditation, the goal can be said to enter into the silence and listen to the wisdom within. A surrendering is often called for during meditation as we are confronted with our excuses, our distractions, and our ego telling us that so many other things are more important and that sitting still is a waste of time.
Meditation Mind Chatter
Here are the 7 most common voices of your ego trying to distract you from your spiritual connection during meditation:
- Impatient voice: Why isn’t anything happening yet? I have been sitting here for five minutes already and nothing is happening. No lights, no bliss, no peace, just nothing!
- Task-master voice: I don’t have time for doing nothing. I should be productive. There are so many things on my list.
- Distractor voice: This is boring. What is the point of this whole thing anyway?
- Perfectionist voice: I must be doing it wrong. Nothing is happening. I don’t feel calm yet. I feel busy inside. This can’t be right.
- Blamer voice: This stuff just doesn’t work. Only people with nothing important to do can do this type of stuff. Who got me into this anyway?
- Failure voice: I just can’t do this. I don’t know how. My mind won’t stop.
- ‘What is wrong with me’ voice: Uh oh, I am still thinking thoughts. What is wrong with my mind? Why can’t I control myself?
Solution = Awareness & Acceptance
The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance. – Nathaniel Branden
If you’re aware of the potential for this type of mind chatter, it will be easier for you to overcome the temptation to stop meditating when it occurs. These voices are a reflection of the egos discomfort with silence and surrender. Instead of letting your ego sabotage your practice, acknowledge and accept the thought as a distraction and bring your awareness back to whatever you’re focusing on, such as your breath.
Acceptance looks like a passive state, but in reality it brings something entirely new into this world. That peace, a subtle energy vibration, is consciousness. – Eckhart Tolle
Imagine your thoughts are like a flowing river and you’re standing on the river’s edge watching them float by. As you continue to retrieve your mind’s attention and focus on your breath, you will soon experience the numerous benefits of meditation. It doesn’t matter if you find yourself retrieving your mind 10 times or 100 times during your practice. It just matters that you keep retrieving it and refocusing. Over time, the mind chatter lessens and an overall sense of peace and calm sets in. At times, meditation seems easier than at other times. With consistent practice, meditation offers the tools to accept whatever arises rather than resist it. This single factor brings an ongoing and even overflowing experience of inner peace.
Hilary Stokes Ph.D. and Kim Ward Ph.D. have been a team for 20 years, specializing in mind, body, spirit psychology. They are the authors of the bestselling books The Happy Map: Your roadmap to the habit of happiness and Manifesting Mindset: The 6-step formula for attracting your goals and dreams and founders of Authenticity Associates Coaching and Counseling. They are passionate about combining the best of holistic and traditional approaches to health and happiness. If you are interested in learning the answers to the most frequently asked questions on how to decrease stress and increase happiness sign up for their free video series.