I was presented with a reminder today while meditating with my Ki Gong class. Our studio is located on a relatively main road so there’s the typical traffic noises. The day to day noises that we’re used to are easy to ignore. However on this particular day it was trash pickup day and they were collecting the dumpsters from the nearby businesses. If you’ve never heard a dumpster being picked up, the best way to describe it is mechanical noises followed by loud metallic banging as if the dumpster was dropped back down instead of placing it down.
These extra noises acted as a reminder of what meditation is really about. I know for myself in the beginning I thought it was simply sitting quietly while trying to clear your head of all thoughts and distractions. Then I learned that you also needed to be mindful of how you were breathing. But my mind is always full of to-do lists and future plans so meditation that involved sitting in silence brought forth a symphony of noise from my head. It made the practice frustrating for me.
I then later learned that the point of meditation is not to completely clear your head, it’s to learn to be present in the current moment. So the challenge isn’t to get rid of thoughts and ignore outside distractions but to just let them go. The dumpster collection reminded me of this lesson. I couldn’t control the noise outside so getting upset and letting it affect the thing I can control, my breathing, just caused unnecessary stress.
When we meditate the goal in the beginning especially is to focus on the present moment and to do that you focus on the way you breathe. Thoughts will enter your head and noises from outside will happen but you can’t control that. You can control your response to those things. Through practice you learn to simply let those things you can’t control just pass by. You learn that everything doesn’t need a response and if it does it might not need it immediately. You learn to live in the present moment.
It took me a while to get to the point where I can simply sit and stand quietly, while focusing on my breathing. What helped me was my Ki Gong practice. During the Ki Gong movements you coordinate your breathing. Having my brain focus on breathing in a concentrated way while also moving in a concentrated way gives it a break from all the other thoughts running rampant. It gave me a sense of what still meditation should feel like. And it’s why I always precede my still meditation with a Ki Gong routine first.
If you’ve ever had trouble with traditional meditation give Ki Gong a try. I have several videos on my YouTube channel that you can try out. And if you’d like to dive deeper and make it more of a regular practice check out my Ki Gong Basics course.