How to Still the Mind in Meditation

Question

When I sit for meditation, I’m not able to silent my mind completely. I have thoughts coming in and out and a lot of self dialog and I’m off the track. Most of the time, instead of being calm and Joyful, I feel irritated about this and quit. Others may see me sitting with my eyes closed and say that I’m doing meditation, but i don’t feel it as a meditation. Do guide me in this regard.

—Prince sharma, India

Answer

Dear friend,

It is not unusual for meditators to experience what you are going through.

Swami Kriyananda offers the following suggestions on concentration from his book, Rays of the One Light:

“The devotee, to protect the candle flame of his concentration from the gusts of restlessness, must try to banish from his mind all images, all worldly scenes, the words of others, the remembered episodes in his life, all thought of physical pleasures, his plans for the future. Nothing must tempt him to stray from his fixed purpose while his soul calls to God.

To protect his concentration from sensory invasion, he must first control his response to outward stimuli. He should train his will not to respond to sensations of heat or cold, comfort or discomfort, restlessness or fatigue.

With a little discipline of the body at the beginning of meditation, and with the strong determination not to move or fidget about, the body’s demands will grow weaker. After even five minutes of this discipline, one may find it easy to sit for a long period without even wanting to move.

Most of the difficulty encountered in meditation is due to physical tension. Once tension is removed by the practice of deep relaxation, one finds meditation itself becoming increasingly enjoyable.

Again, with a little mental self-discipline at the beginning of meditation, one finds it increasingly easy to remain without thought.

Tell your mind firmly the moment you become settled on your seat to meditate, “This is my time for God.” If restless thoughts try insistently to engage your attention, reassure them, “We’ll discuss these things later!””

Blessings on your spiritual journey,
Nayaswami Pranaba