An Over-Active Mind
Why does the mind seem to become more active when we start to meditate? The truth is that it doesn’t become more active but because we are not engaged in any other activity apart from physically sitting and focusing on one thing, we start to become aware of how active our minds usually are. We have encouraged our minds to be able to multi-task so that this activity becomes the normal state. But so much constant activity is not necessarily good for the mind especially when the thoughts we have are not productive in terms of energy. Remember, your brain is constantly monitoring both your external and your internal environment and where necessary issuing instructions to act upon an altered state. So, it is already multi-tasking before we come along and interrupt its various processes with our thoughts.
Thoughts connect to perception and here’s where it starts to get tricky. Perception is a personal viewpoint that often relates to our individual circumstances and situation, but which can also be greatly influenced by the general viewpoint involving all forms of media. Dramas, disasters, personalities and problems. Ongoing and unfolding. A cyclical onslaught. And we have a centre in our brain that deals with resolving problems, after all that’s what the brain excels at. Identifying and resolving problems. But all aspects of health relate to energy efficiency making it necessary to understand the nature of energy. Firstly, an expansive force creates both space and compression, and we can see this reflected in the dynamic of the inhalation. It is then followed by a passive force of release and disengagement such as we see in the exhalation. There is also a moment of inertia and inactivity before the desire to inhale kicks in and the process starts over.
Every process needs a balance in its energetic activity, so meditation exercises help to train the brain to connect to the passive and inert states through a slowing down of the processing of thoughts. You are not actively trying to stop thinking because you are still in the first energetic phase and this is why the harder you try the worse it gets! Remember, force not forced. You need to learn to step back from the process. Meditation starts with the posture and so you must make sure that your body is comfortable otherwise it will distract the mind [ I have recorded a separate Pod Video on Meditation Postures to help you find your comfortable posture]. As a rule, both your back and your thighs need to be well supported so that you can sit comfortably throughout the exercise. The one key activity to focus on when you are meditating is your breath which exists in both the physical and physiological realm. Remember how your brain is constantly monitoring the internal environment through physiological input. You can physically feel your breath and focus on its rhythm. In fact, it can be useful to meter out a rhythm for the breath which incorporates all aspects. I call this Circuit Breath and it includes two pauses after both the inhalation and the exhalation.
This often effectively helps to keep the mind focused, but you can also let your breathing rhythm be natural and let your mind rest with the movement of the diaphragm muscle. There are a couple of different meditations in the Pod Videos which will help guide you through the exercise and if you find that your mind continues to wander off, try not to berate yourself or criticise you mind. Meditation is simply a mental posture or stance, and we don’t naturally stand still. There’s always movement. Just notice whether you have followed the train of thought and then bring your mind back to your breath. Practice really does help the mind to slow its activity which will help preserve our mental health through greater awareness of our reactions and responses to the dramas and problems we face in our day to day life.