I have heard it hundreds of times, "I can't meditate", "I don't have time to meditate", "I can't focus enough to meditate". It seems the harder you try, the more frustrated you get. I get it. I had the exact same problem. Our "monkey brains" will not give us a moments rest.
"Everyday, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, "This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!" And each day, it is up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, "No. This is what is important." ~Iain Thomas
That is one of my of favorite quotes and really puts things in perspective. You are the one that is important. Yes, family is important. Friends are important. But if you do not take care of yourself, who will? Who will take care of those friends and family if you fall ill from neglect? As part of caring for yourself, meditation can be a vital part of maintaining good health and well being by giving your mind, body and spirit a break from the chaotic lives we live.
The emphasis in meditation practice is on the word "practice". It truly is a lifelong journey, a process of learning to come back to your clear, unobstructed life experience. Just as painful habits take time to unravel, helpful habits take time to instill. Scientific study states that it takes 21 days to create a new habit or to break one. Here are some suggestions to help you get started in a daily practice. They are not hard fast rules, but just some ideas that might get you started on the path to unraveling the monkey brain and giving yourself peace.
Establish your space: Plan to meditate in the same spot every day. It could be your bedroom, living room or outside on the porch. Pick a place where you can be relatively undisturbed during your meditation practice. If you can't dedicate a space exclusively make sure you can easily carry a chair, cushion or bench to and from it each day. And please note, you do not need to sit in the floor to gain enlightenment as shown in so many movies and pictures. The point is to be comfortable. If being comfortable is sitting in the floor on a cushion, so be it. If sitting in a chair with your hands resting in your lap, there you go. Whatever makes YOU comfortable is the right way to meditate.
Plan: Try to meditate at the same time every day. Some people find it best to sit first thing in the morning, while others find it easier to practice in the afternoon or at bedtime. Experiment to find what time works best for you and then stick to it.
Time: Determine before you take your seat how long you will meditate. This tactic eliminates the potential for discursive decision making during your practice. For beginners I recommend 5 to 10 minutes daily for the first two weeks. You probably won't be able to hold your focus longer than that and the goal here is to limit frustration and get you past the monkey brain interruptions.
Keep it simple. The purpose of your practice is not to induce any particular state of mind, but to bring added clarity to whatever experience you are having in the moment.
Remember it doesn't have to be perfect. As you sit, breath deeply and slowly as you focus your attention on your breath. Clear your mind. If you find your monkey brain interrupts you, acknowledge the thought and release it. Put your focus back on your breath. If thoughts come and go, it is perfectly okay. Acknowledge the thoughts and release it. I like to tell my students to treat the thoughs as soap bubbles and as they show up, to visualize a pin popping them and go back to focusing on your breath. Keep it light and relaxing.
There is plenty of time in the day to address whatever thoughts are coming, but right now is "me" time. Clear your mind. This is where the practice begins. This is where the training of the monkey brain starts. Over time, the monkey brain will wait its turn. It will quiet when you quiet. This is when the magic happens, being able to connect with your inner self without being flooded with thoughts. This is where you gain peace and tranquility. This is where enlightenment starts.
Hopefully this will help you on your way. If you need assistance I am always here to help.
Many blessings to you,