How to Meditate?
Meditate in such a way that you let go of emotional attachments.
Let’s get one thing clear, part of the reason why we’re all so stressed out and anxious is because our memories are not emotionally neutral. When we perceive certain things, we tend to react a certain way because we have been “trained” by past experiences to respond that way.
What if I told you that, in many cases, we respond in a very unproductive or downright negative way? We could be responding in more neutral or more positive ways and our lives could be more productive.
Instead of wasting a tremendous amount of emotional and mental resources feeling negative, angry, frustrated, guilty, upset, you name it, we can focus more on feeling appreciated as well as content. It’s all a choice.
But unfortunately, if we hang on to these past memories and we judge them in a predictably negative way, we lose sight of the fact that we can always choose our judgments. We feel that our negative analysis is just who we are. It’s part of our identity. It’s part of our personality.
Well, it isn’t. It’s always a choice. With this technique, you gain some freedom from the emotional roller coaster ride that you feel just takes you to negative territory like clockwork.
Here’s how it works.
Step #1: Count your breath
Go back to the earlier article where I taught you how to count your breath. Watch your breath. Count it. Focus on your breath. At a certain point, you will relax.
You can use the SEAL method, or you can use the more intensive breath counting and watching method I discussed earlier. Whatever the case may be, keep doing it until you sense relaxation.
Step #2: Close your eyes
Once you feel that you have reached a certain level of relaxation, close your eyes. Everything should go black. Allow yourself to relax even deeper. Allow yourself to slow your thoughts down. Just focus on the calmness of the darkness.
There’s nothing to prove here. You don’t have to be somebody that you’re not. You have nobody to impress. This is just you and your thoughts. It’s just calm, pure darkness. No light, no color, nothing to get worked up about.
Step #3: Focus on your thoughts
Once you have relaxed, pretend that you are in some sort of movie theater and you’re sitting back and you’re seeing scenes. These are your thoughts. When you assume that perspective, you would realize that you’re thinking a lot.
If you’re a normal person, a lot of mental images flash through your mind. In fact, we go through so many mental images, oftentimes we’re not aware of them all. So sit back and just see your thoughts play out.
Step #4: Make sure not to judge or analyze your thoughts
Here’s the thing that you will be doing differently. Most people have no problem seeing mental images flash through their mind. But the problem is, once that happens, they get all emotionally caught up.
For example, you had an ex who cheated on you, stole from you, or otherwise did bad things to you. How do you think you would feel when you see something that reminds you of him or her? You probably don’t feel all that good.
Now, with this technique, when the mental image or the picture or the likeness of your ex comes to your mind, your rule is that you let the image flash, but you will hold judgment. You’re not going to analyze it.
You’re just going to acknowledge that “This is the image of my ex,” “This is the image of my boss,” “This is a scene from my childhood,” “This is a scene where I was let go at work,” “This is a scene at jail.”
Whatever the case may be, you’re seeing all these mental images, but you’re not judging. You are acknowledging. It’s very important that you know the distinction. You’re not engaged in pretending to not see something. For example, if there was a fire in your childhood, you’re not going to say, “Well, this was a happy moment in my childhood.” No. “This was a fire in my childhood.”
But this is going to be different from “This is a very traumatizing childhood memory that basically destroyed my life because I lost both my parents.” Do you see the difference? There’s no judgment here.
You just say, “This is a fire that happened when I was a child.” It’s stripped out of all emotional baggage. It’s stripped out of all emotional trauma. Acknowledge, and describe in a very objective, flat and neutral way.
This is not going to happen overnight. If you are carrying around very heavy weight, maybe child sexual abuse, maybe you were unjustly punished. Whatever the case may be, you just need to focus on what you see.
Do not judge. Do not analyze. Just acknowledge it, and then move on to the next step.
Step #5: Let your thoughts pass like clouds
One of my fondest childhood memories involves me and my cousins just going up to this little hill and, for what seemed like hours, we would just lay back on the grass and watch the clouds pass by.
My cousin would say, “That’s a bicycle.” I would say, “No, that looks more like a dog.” There was, of course, no right or wrong answer. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. Every person’s guess was as good as all others. It was a lot of fun because we were exercising our imaginations.
We were, after all, just watching clouds pass by. There were countless clouds before them. And there will be countless clouds after them. They are here one moment and gone the next.
I want you to do the same with your thoughts but let them pass like clouds. Just like clouds, your thoughts just pass through. Let them pass. Don’t deny them. Don’t pretend they are something else. Don’t argue with them. Don’t bargain with yourself. Just observe the ‘thought clouds’ honestly. In other words, when the mental image flashes, acknowledge it.
It doesn’t make it any less real, mind you, but you’re just acknowledging it because we’re not engaged in self-delusion here. We’re not trying to trick ourselves or hypnotize ourselves into thinking that these events, which ultimately are very traumatic and hurtful, did not happen. Instead, you’re just acknowledging.
And then the next step is what makes it really powerful. When you acknowledge, you then let it pass like a cloud. Just like a cloud, it’s going to zoom over your head. It’s going to linger slowly, depending on how strong the wind is. But you just let it pass. Eventually, it will pass.
Step #6: Enjoy the emotional distance
When you repeat this over several weeks, you start noticing emotional distance. Mental images, memories or what have you, that used to throw you off track no longer do.
Maybe there was a memory that used to make you cry like you were on autopilot, now you don’t do that. You just say, “Well, that happened to me when I was 4 years old and my housekeeper was in that memory,” then you let it pass.
“Well, that happened to be, and my boss said something and I was let go and I found another job.” You let it pass. “Well, that was my best friend and my ex-girlfriend.” You let the memory pass.
You do this over and over again, and the more successful you become at it, the greater the emotional distance. Eventually, all that stuff that used to drag you down and hold you back is left in the past. Congratulations.