Creating a Meaningful Life: Learning to Meditate

meditationMeditating went much smoother this week. I had far fewer moments of frustration than the previous week and I am attributing that to the technique I tried this week. I still focused on my breath and used the counting method to hold my concentration, but I also listened to soothing sounds while I meditated. I was surprised when a friend mentioned that you don’t need to be in total silence to meditate. People listen to gongs, repeat a sound over and over, and even listen to another person guide them through the meditation. I was hopeful at the beginning of this week that listening to a calming sound would help me find my focus again. I started the week by using a sleep machine app and was lulled into concentration by the sound of waves. I instantly felt a difference. I used headphones to listen to the waves and having that tranquil sound in my ears helped me tune out any thoughts that tried to get in. My main focus was on my breath, but having the waves in the background allowed me to reach a new depth of concentration.  After a few days of waves, I tried using the sound of heavy rain. This sound didn’t produce as much success and I am not sure why. My only theory is that the steady sound of the rain was easier for me to tune out than the varying sounds of the waves pulling back and crashing.

I also tried meditating on my subway ride to work a couple of times. I never reached the same sense of lightness as when I meditate lying down, but I achieved a level of focus both times that I have only reached while lying down a couple of times. I suspect I didn’t reach a full state of meditation because, while the thought that I would miss my stop wasn’t at the front of my mind, it was there. The lull of the car on the tracks, and the din of conversation all around me, helped me tune out thoughts and focus solely on the sounds around me. I was able to go a few stops, probably equal to 5-7 minutes totally zoned in on the sounds around me without even the wisp of a thought penetrating my concentration.

My favorite sounds (which also happens to be the one I had the most success listening to) were the waves. They helped me keep my focus on my breath through multiple counts to ten. I also loved having the added visualization of being at the beach and now I can’t wait to try meditating on the beach when we visit CA in a few weeks.

In the coming week I am going to try listening to a few different guided meditations. I found a few in my initial research, but plan to find a few others as well. I am excited to have someone tell me exactly what to be doing and focusing on. Hopefully that will help me think even less!

What sounds did you use to meditate this week?