Andy's Daily Headspace: Good Effort
Last week several people wrote in to ask why their mind seemed so restless in the first few minutes of meditation. They said that they found it especially hard to concentrate and that they found they were much more easily distracted during this time. This is a very common experience, and there’s a surprisingly simple explanation for it. But my first bit of advice would be to..
Watch the ‘Effort’ animation again! This describes the process perfectly and gives you a nice visual metaphor for how to best approach the mind when you first sit down.
As you’ll see when you watch it, the secret is not in trying harder, nor is it in focusing with a laser-like intensity. It is by recognising that this is the nature of the mind and to give it the time and space that it needs to settle down, rather than trying to force it in to submission.
Think of it this way...if you are riding a bike and suddenly stop pedaling, you will probably freewheel for quite a little while before you come to a stop. This will probably feel like quite a nice way of stopping and requires no effort at all, as the momentum simply runs itself out. In contrast to this, slam on the brakes and you’ll probably go straight over the handlebars and end up with a sore head. This probably won’t feel quite so nice as the first option.
When the mind is very active it’s difficult to see what’s going on and to concentrate on one thing, in the same way that it’s difficult to pay close attention to things around us when we are whizzing past them on a bike. But when the mind slows down, then it becomes much easier to look around, to pause and notice things, and even to stop and rest in one place.