Some people find it very difficult to fall into a meditative state of any kind, because their mind races far too much. If the phrase, “focus on your breathing,” simply does not work for you, here are a few things you can try to help achieve altered state.
Are you focusing too much on something when you try to meditate? Can you not center your consciousness because too much is going on? Have you tried and tried, but your mind wanders and you find yourself unable to meditate in the proper?
Many people have this problem. It’s an issue with lots of beginner and even advanced meditators, and it stems from the fact that your life is going too fast when you try to meditate. You can try a few things to slow down a bit.
1. Holding Your Energy Meridians
Throughout your body, there are some twenty meridians of energy that flow from one point to another and provide your body with Qi. You can temporarily suspend all of them at once for a few seconds, and then release them together. This will relieve any blockages which may be causing you any emotional grief.
Simply sit in your meditative position, and locate every muscle on your body that you can control. Find your heartbeat in your ears, and for ten heartbeats, tense every muscle in your body as hard as you can, as if you were doing an isometric exercise.
On the tenth heartbeat, release all the tensed muscles, and feel the energy pulse back through your body. You can do this multiple times, and it is, in fact, a healthy practice to do periodically even if you are not having trouble with meditation.
2. Washing Rice
This is an exercise used in Tai Chi Ch’uan. Stand with your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart, toes forward. Bend your knees around 20 or 30 degrees, and hold your hands in front of you like you were holding a basketball, palms forward but hands relaxed. Take a deep breath inward, and sink lower in your knees. Bring your hands out to the sides and scoop them inwards, like you were gathering up sticks or (appropriately) scooping up a bunch of rice grains.
When you reach the lowest your knees will let you go, slowly breathe out and bring the “handful” of rice up in the center, holding your hands like they were holding a large bowl. When your knees are almost straight, let the handful of imaginary rice fall back to the floor by turning your wrists to face forward again, sinking slightly back down to the original position.
This exercise opens up your hips and knees, and focuses your breath and intent on the actions you perform. From this point it becomes easier to just meditate than coming in “cold.”
3. Rice Paper Compression
An exercise used by Japanese Sumo wrestlers, this exercise will not only focus your mind and body, but will also strengthen your hands and wrists. Traditionally it is performed with a stack of rice paper, but modern-day newsprint will do (as long as you don’t mind getting newsprint ink on your hands!). Sit with the stack of paper on one side of you. Take one piece of the paper, and, with a deep breath inward, begin to crumple the paper in your hands.
The object of the exercise is to compress the paper into as tiny and dense a ball as is possible. Focus on keeping a steady breath rhythm. When you have compressed the paper until it can no longer be compressed, open the paper back up, and spread it out flat on the floor next to you on the opposite side of the stack of papers.
Repeat this exercise until you run out of papers or your hands are too tired to continue. You will find that by the time you are finished, you are almost in a meditative state already, and it will be simple to just fall right in.