Don’t worry, you are not the first person and definitely won’t be the last person to ask that question! Meditation can be challenging especially when you start and for many people the thought of turning off their brain is daunting. The good news is that meditation isn’t really about stopping you from thinking,

You can't stop thinking so don’t even try to as you will just fail. Your mind's raison d'etre is to think and trying not to think will just freak it out! The trick is to give your mind just enough to focus on so when it does inevitably wander you can bring your attention back to meditation.

Your brain’s attention capacity is actually quite limited and this can be used to focus your mind in meditation. Your intention when meditating is to clear your mind but you don’t want to feel that space which will distract you from your meditation. Fortunately that are a few tips and techniques that you can use to focus your mind when meditating.

Techniques to try to Stop Thinking while Meditating

You should try one of the below techniques for two weeks, ideally practising daily. This should be enough time to develop it as a new habit but if it doesn’t work please try another one.

Meditation Preparation

It is important that you are prepared for meditation. You must be willing to set some time aside to practise. If you run in the door after a long day at work, look at your phone, realise you have 15 minutes to meditate, grab some cushions and plop down, your mind will likely still be very speedy! 

You need to dedicate some time for you to get in the right state of mind before you start. This will help you stop thinking while meditating especially when you are beginning your meditation journey.

Stop Thinking while Meditating by Keeping your Focus

Many people use a journal before they mediate as this helps them create a clear mental space. You would just write whatever is on your mind, unedited until you feel you have released all your repetitive thoughts. You can also try to start at the same time every day, no matter how long you meditate for. 

 Establishing a routine will train your brain to get in the right frame to meditate. Choose a time of day that works best for you and your lifestyle. With the right preparation you will be more confident and find it easier to keep your mind focused.

Active Meditation

If you find it hard or don’t like sitting still you may wonder how you can meditate. Active meditation is a style that combines movement and silence. It is practised in stages so it gives your mind things to focus on throughout the process.

One of the major benefits of active meditation is that you can really do it throughout the day and incorporate it into daily chores. This involves mindfully bringing attention to what you are doing and focusing on the details. If your mind wanders and your start to think off other things, come back to the simple sensorial experiences of that chore.

You can do this for any daily activity that you would like to be meditative. Another added benefit; you may even enjoy doing the chore a little more!

Guided Meditation

These are the most popular styles of meditation for beginners and are very beneficial in helping you focus your mind. When you do Guided meditation you follow the lead of another party. . This can be in person or audio or video. The direction given by your guide can be in the form of musical or verbal or combination of both instructions or cues.

As the mind has a tendency to wander, many of us find it easier to focus with some clear direction and instructions. Your guide will provide direction on how to relax at the beginning of the practice so you are comfortable. They will then lead you through the rest of the practice providing mental images and visualisations for your mind to focus on. 

Guided mediation is a fantastic entry style for beginners as focusing the mind is usually their biggest challenge.

stop thinking while meditating

Breathing Exercises 

Slow down, and pay attention to your breath. Focusing your mind on your breathing is a great way to stop thinking when you are mediating. It also has many positive effects on your body and mind. 

Focusing on the breath is the key fundamental of meditating. As you meditate regularly you will become more mindful of your natural breathing and let it guide you as your practise. Breathe exercises help you breathe in a more conscious way so you can reduce the amount your mind wanders. 

There are many types of breathing exercises you can experiment with that can help you relax with your breath. Some of the most popular meditation breathing techniques are:

Mantras and Affirmations

A mantra is a simple idea or philosophy which can be a sentence, phrase or just a word. Mantra is a Snaskrit word: man (meaning “mind” or “to think”) and trai meaning to “protect”, to “free from”, or “instrument/tool”. 

You should personalise this mantra and repeat it in your mind. Doing this will help clear your consciousness and provide a kind of mental protection against unwelcome distractions or emotions. It is a toy to keep the monkey-mind busy, and allow it to become more calm and centred.

Affirmations are similar to mantras and can help you stop thinking while meditating, especially if those thoughts are negative. Your affirmation would be a conscious thought that is positive and powerful. Ideally it should have an element of truth, something you can genuinely believe in. 

A good place to start when choosing an affirmation is to identify something you want and to also stay in the present. This is because your subconscious mind doesn't know the difference between past and future; all is here and now. It doesn't know the difference between yes or no. It just reacts as if its truth.

Group Meditation

Another way for you to stop thinking while meditating is to harness the power of group meditation. By attending group sessions you may be more inclined to practice more often and become more committed and develop a habit. You may also really enjoy connecting with others and feel less isolated in your practice. 

 Being in a group environment you will have the opportunity to get feedback on answers to questions. You may find that the reason you were struggling to focus your mind was a common issue or has an easy resolution. Search online to find a group to meditate with.

Experiment with Different Styles

There are many styles of meditation and there is no right way to meditate. It is unlikely that the first style you try will be the right one. You should explore the different styles and techniques and be open to finding the most suitable way for you to find the calm you're looking for.

It is important to remember that you are learning when meditating and the best meditation style for you is close to the way you learn. If you learn by having structure then Transcendental meditation might be right for you. If on the other hand if you learn best by doing things and being physically active, then you might want to try body awareness meditation.

When you meditate, you're exploring a deeper experience of yourself. You're getting to know yourself intimately in a way you never have before. That can be exciting, scary, vulnerable and fun all at once! When you explore your own internal experience, you'll feel more peace, calm and clarity in all aspects of your life and relationships.

The process of meditation is unpredictable so on some days you will concentrate and focus better than on other days. Don’t beat yourself up on the bad days, it is the same for everyone whether they are new to meditation or been practising for a decade!

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