Why Meditation Is Difficult When Your Mind Is Like A Puppy

Sooo many people have tried and failed at meditating. They sit, they twitch and wriggle, the silence annoys them and their mind WON'T STOP. So they give up. Like riding a bike, meditation is a new skill. And it takes a little practice.

Especially when your mind is like a puppy.

I've never met anyone who can learn anything if they don't understand the steps and process little by little and the WHY to do it first. Like a puppy it takes time to train them to do tricks. So don't be hard on yourself if you have tried and failed at meditating. Your mind simply needs a little training.

Sitting still with your own thoughts can be like sitting on hot coals for some of us with a busy mind (me included when I first started meditating - and still sometimes now if I don't do it enough). It was like a slow form of torture for me. I thought it was a complete waste of time and would constantly focus on all the other more important things I could be doing. Like progressing and succeeding and DOING. Now I love it more than anything and it has invited such peace to my life and allowed me to view the whole world and myself differently. First thought I had to learn what was going on up there and how to break it into small simple bit size steps. Then I learned the art of meditation and magic happened. My first long meditation was like seeing myself and world in a totally different light. I was hooked.

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First Things First.

The Yogi's New Best

Keep in mind. Meditation is the second last step of 8 (step 7) on the yogic path. There are literally countless lessons of philosophy made up of moral codes, self observance, breath work, physical postures, concentration and relaxation practices to learn before we even get to the cushion. Why did they put meditation way at the end? Because they understood that the nature of the human mind was to avoid, squirm, rebel and attach itself to Every. Little. Thing. before it would sit still. They knew that training, gentleness, non violence towards yourself and a process was needed first.

Does this mean you have to become a yogi and dive into philosophy for years before you can meditate? No. But there are a few things we need to learn first before your meditation cushion will become your best friend.

Why Your Mind Is Like A Puppy

Think of a small puppy. It has the concentration level of a flea. It bounces from place to place. It chews on things. It pees on the floor over and over again. It won't sleep at night. It runs on the road without thinking. It eats out of the bin. The untrained mind is no different. It is constantly running off all over the place 'chewing' over things and reacts without thinking like a puppy running on the road. What is the first thing we do to a puppy to begin to train it? We put it on a leash.

Put Your Mind On A Short Leash

If we don't want the puppy to get run over and we want to teach it to sit. We put it on a leash and usually we give it a treat when it is a good boy. We don't smack the puppy every time it does something wrong. So with your mind we don't want to smack it by berating it, telling it it is doing something wrong or giving up completely because we have 'failed'. Instead we want to use non violence towards the mind in its current state and show it a little compassion. It is simply untrained and there is nothing wrong with that. We also want small wins as 'treats' just like a puppy. So instead of aiming to be in a deep meditation for an hour with an untrained mind, we are going to focus on small bite size pieces first.

To put the puppy on a leash we are going to:

  • Call the Mind Back

  • Breathe

  • Concentrate

  • Observe

"Meditation is not getting rid of your thoughts and emotions. It is learning to watch and observe them and allow them to be there without the need to get involved. Like a small puppy chewing on a shoe, we are training the mind to stop chewing on everything" Click to Tweet This Quote

The 5 Myths of Meditation

We all have built up conceptions of what is going to happen when we sit on that cushion. I know my original goal was to float off into a place that would feel like heaven. I was like 'c'mon give me the goddamn bliss!' Having this goal set me up for failure. So let's look at the most common meditation myths:

1. Meditation Means My Mind Will Stop - FALSE

Your mind will never stop and this is not the goal of meditation. Remember we are teaching th puppy to sit and observe not become frozen in time. Meditation is learning to focus on a single point (like your breath) until space is created in between thoughts. It is learning to allow your thoughts and emotions and distractions to be there without the need to get into bed with them. Sounds simple right? Simple but not easy. The more practice, the longer the space between thoughts. The benefit? The more space between thoughts the more peace. And clarity. And a general sense of ease and happiness that just warms you like a blanket. We learn to be less defined by our thoughts and stories and driven more by what truly matters to us.

2. Meditation Is Visualising Bright Colours & Pretty Pictures As I Fly Off Into Another Land - FALSE

Meditation does not involve any visualisation in the traditional teachings. Visualisation is apart of another system called Dharana (concentration) where we learn to direct the mind where we want to go in a relaxed state. Including visualising pretty pictures in our mind. Your goal is not to float off anywhere. Your goal is to be with yourself in the moment just as you are and make room for yourself just as you are - with kindness and sense of acceptance. The benefit? You gain a sense of self acceptance and an acceptance of life as it is. You stop struggling and start living.

3. Meditation Takes Time - FALSE

You do not need an hour of spare time each day for meditation. For most of us that is unrealistic and just plain hard to commit to. We can start with 5 minutes and build from there. 5 minutes of training the puppy each day goes a long way. Thinking you can sit cross legged for an hour with a still mind straight off the bat is like expecting a puppy to sleep all night, toilet train itself and not chew things in it's first week of life. Not going to happen. Just a few minutes is all we need to get started. The benefit? In just those few minutes you are going to self calm, create more space and clarity so you can focus on what is truly important. It's like seeing the world through a different lense.

4. Meditation Will Make Me Feel Blissful and Happy Every Time - FALSE

There are days when I am back sitting on the hot coals. Squirming to run away from myself. And those are they days I know I have to sit through the fire a bit longer. I fight the urge to run. It always makes me giggle that we have this inability to be able to just sit with ourselves. We are funny us humans. Those are the days that I know my mind is full of clutter, my life has become too busy and I have become less present. I know that those days I need to let go of the reigns and stop controlling. In letting go of control we find real heartfelt answers. And so I sit and just be until the agitation subsides. I let my mind have it's say and I sit and be anyway. Eventually I calm. The benefit? Clarity over the whole of your life. You are building a sense of self discipline and losing the need to control and react to every little thing in your life. You are therefore teaching yourself to see what is truly important instead of focusing on your list of to do's and things to achieve which don't bring us long term fulfillment.

"Let Your Mind Have It's Say & Sit & Be Anyway"

5. I Need A Quiet Room Soft Candles and Whale Music to Meditate - FALSE

The sound of whales calling, smell of scented candles and absolute quiet will not help you train the puppy. Though they are nice added touches - whatever works use it - but you don't need them. If you put the puppy in a quiet room with whale music and incense will it all of a sudden obey you? All you need is you. Your entire day can be one long mindful present meditation if you want it to be. It can be done anywhere anytime even if you just have 5 minutes.

Recently on our retreat there were 2 of our yoga teachers sitting in on the workshop where we break down the Observant Mind and Meditation roadblocks. Everyone in the group was asking most of the above questions with their biggest issue being time. I asked both of the yogi's in the room how often they meditated. And they both pretty much answered in the same way 'I don't. My day is one long mediation'. Essentially your eyes can be open, you can be withdrawing your mind away from the world, you can be connected to your breath and you can be fully awake and present and be meditating. This was very true for me after the birth of my Winta - aka the Wild Child. I thought I wasn't a real yogi and would lose all my peace if I wasn't on the mat or cushion daily. my teacher said to me; you can practice yoga at anywhere and anytime. It is true. The benefit? You can find peace in a moments notice anywhere anytime. You just have to remind yourself to do it.

6. Meditation Is For Spiritual Navel Gazing Hippies

Meditation is for everyone who lives anywhere near the modern age who wants more peace in their lives; spiritual, hippy, conservative, atheist or otherwise. The teachings of meditation were formulated from everyday people who felt that they were suffering and looked deep into themselves for a way to alleviate their sense of apathy and the words ringing in their head 'is this it?' when they looked at their lives and the world around them no matter how much outside success or wealth they had.

Some of the most successful and genuinely content people I know are serial meditators. I've helped corporate men of immense wealth and power who seemingly had it all step away from the ledge of suicide with nothing but meditation.

If you want to live beyond the constraints of constantly having to do, to succeed to achieve and progress and living being dragged around by your mind then meditation is for you. If you lack a sense of who you are truly are at your core then you need to explore a system, meditation or otherwise, that leads you back to who you really are beyond your external achievements. On the contrary I know plenty of yogi's who spend too much time meditating and detaching from real life to the point where they can't pay their bills and function in the real world and they use it as a form of escape from reality. It's a double edge sword and not be used to escape the ability we have to take action and to serve and explore the world we live in.

Meditating does not mean you are religious and does not conflict with any other form of faith. That's the beauty of yoga. It was built for everyone and anyone who wanted to find peace.

Training The Puppy In 4 Steps

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Step 1 - Call Your Mind Back (Time: 2 Seconds)

The next time your mind is running off into the future worrying about this and that or back into the past replaying events. Stop. And call it back. Just observe what it does and it keep bringing it back. When you call your mind back you are stilling allowing the past pictures and future to do's to be there but instead you are turning your focus to the present. Namely your breath.

Step 2 - Breathe (Time: 1 Minute)

Once you are back in your body find your breath. Notice where it enters and leaves the body. Observe where it travels in the body. Deepen the breath to reach down into your hips and belly. Stay wholeheartedly with your breath as if nothing else mattered.

Step 3 - Concentrate (Time 2 Minutes)

If you can close your eyes. If you can't - focus on the sky, the grass or anything that is calming - anything in nature helps. Concentrate on everything that you can hear in the moment. The sounds, the smells, the feeling of clothing on your skin. Continue to concentrate on your breath when the mind attempts to wander and stay with the present experience of just sitting with your breath and body and moment.

Step 4 - Observe (Time: 2 Minutes - As Long As You Want)

With anything that arises in the moment learn to observe and watch it as if you were watching a film. But instead of buying into the story line, comments and judgements of the movie you are going to watch it as if you were a bystander not a critic. You can still hear the thoughts but you choose to watch them. You can sense emotion but you allow it to be there and watch it. You can hear sounds but you watch them. Keep breathing. Keep coming back.

When we meditate we gain a quality called Vairagya in yoga which means 'healthy detachment'. You are not blanking out and floating off. You are fully connected, aware of who you are beyond your thoughts, emotions and list of to do's but you are also detached from the outcome for a moment. You have lost all the expectations and the pressure is off. You are calm. You are back in touch with you the seer and not the doer which leaves you feeling lighter. You become more open minded, more wise and more able to see the horizon.

"Quiet The Mind & The Soul Will Speak"

Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati

If your mind wanders repeat the above until you are back to observing. Call the mind back, contact your breath, concentrate and then observe. This is meditating. Your are meditating. Hurrah!

I'd love to hear how you went with this tool by leaving me a comment below! You can also ask any other questions you have.

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Have a great day.


Heidi x

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