I have struggled with meditation and visualization my whole life. There has always been so much noise and distractions in my head that it has made it impossible for me to maintain a consistent practice. In the realm of personal development, at some point, it will be emphasized the importance of sitting in silence… developing a 20-minute silent meditation practice.
Just 20 minutes a day. That’s all the time it took for Harvard researchers to see measurable changes in the brain that would help us become more focused, creative, and productive, not to mention less anxious.
Yes, I want to feel that way. I want to connect with the spirit realm and the divine, however, I can’t get the noise to stop long enough to feel as though I am getting any real benefits. I concluded that I was going to have to come to an understanding of what was blocking me before I could begin developing my meditation practice.
I decided to take an inventory of what was working and what wasn’t working. This journey of self-discovery took me down a path I never could have imagined. Here is what I discovered was preventing me from silent meditation.
Never Ending and Constant Distractions
For me sitting in silence was impossible, my head would think of anything and everything to keep from being still and quieting the mind. My body was always uncomfortable, sitting in lotus position was of the most painful positions for me. Many times, I would have to pee, and the urge to pee would then become my only focus.
My solutions became staying in bed and lying down to meditate. Listening to guided meditations in order to drown out all the distractions, all the noise. That worked, it allowed me to hear a positive message and set positive intentions that I could never do in silence.
So, I had to go deeper, and as many of you know, going deeper in many cases means facing your fears. What was that noise, what was lurking behind the noise? It was negative self-talk, massive negative self-talk. Meditation is too hard, this is not for us, why do people rave about it, this shit does not work. As I pealed the layers back and as I got older, I came to realize I was afraid, but of what was I afraid of?
Fear of the Unknown
I was always afraid of the dark when I was a child. I was sure there were monsters under the bed and in the closet. I had a night light; I would not sleep in the dark. I would lie in bed and stare at the dark shadow under my closet door and be sure that there was a monster in there. I would pray every night, please God protect me, don’t let the monsters get me. If I heard any sound I would jump out of bed and go to my parents’ room.
My Dad was not a big fan of kids getting in the bed so I would run in and go to my Mom, Mom I think there is something in my room. I think there is something in my closet. My Mom and sometimes my Dad would come to my room, turn on all the lights and open the closet door. Of course, there was never anything in the closet. To this day I’m not sure if I was relieved that there was nothing in the closet or disappointed that it did not confirm my suspicions. In meditation, I came to realize that it was the darkness, the blackness that I feared. Which would cripple my self-esteem and self-worth.
When I think back at my life, I have always felt that there was something wrong with me. I’m not brave, I’m afraid of the dark, even as an adult I was afraid of the dark. I can’t read books, I read the same page 3 times because I get distracted somehow every time and then realize I read an entire page and was able to comprehend nothing. What is wrong with me?
Studying for a test, paying attention at school, I would drift off into fantasy land or go to sleep. It takes so much concentration for me to pay attention, it’s exhaustion, meanwhile I look around me and it seems as though all the other kids at school around me are another level, it was crippling. Meditation was no different, I could not sit still, mind racing and wandering the whole time. It created more anxiety than relaxation because I would spend the entire time judging myself and the process.
I was raised as a Jehovah Witness until I was 18 years old. Raised to fear God and his wrath towards the sinners. Fear was interwoven into every teaching, there is so much to fear and the consequences are your eternal life. Meditation is frowned upon in this religion because it could allow the devil or evil spirits to get in.
As a child we are not allowed to question the teachings. We are to obey. I had tons of questions, I did not believe, I was pulled in so many other directions and I had no one to talk to about this. I kept so much locked inside of me so this internal conflict between what I was taught and what I believed waged war in my mind daily.
No wonder I can’t sit still, no wonder I can’t pay attention, it felt as though any portal of entry to my mind could lead to danger. Meditation, reading, learning all were entry points for evil. As Jehovah witness you are not encouraged to go past High School. As soon as you can read and write your only purpose is to study the bible and preach the message to others.
This is how my mother has lived her life for over 60 years. There was a part of me riddled with guilt and shame that I had turned my back on my Mother, on God, on my Purpose. And most of all that reading, writing and higher learning could lead to danger. Wow! This epiphany for me was the real game changer. This one took years of personal development, coaching and emotional healing work to understand what was truly plaguing me and preventing me from embracing the darkness.
Embracing the Darkness
For many years I chose to believe the programing in my brain. It was subtle, it was cryptic, it was debilitating and most of all exhausting. It took the form or distractions and endless chatter inside my brain. I remember in one coaching session I was at this intense emotional precipice and my coach asked me again, “what do you really want” and I screamed out, I just want the noise to stop, I completely broke into tears, heavy sobbing.
“What is the noise you hear”? he asks. I’m not good enough, I’m not strong enough, I’m not smart enough, I can’t do it. And then when there was a bit of silence he asks, “So when do you think you will allow yourself to be enough?”
The penny dropped. I had never been asked that question in my life, the programing was too strong. I was never programed to choose for myself, I was never programed to believe that I was enough. I was programed to believe that I had to be a certain way in order to receive love and acceptance. Love and acceptance from my parents, from God, from the world. I lived in a lonely place with lots of noise.
I have all these gifts trapped inside of me unable to tap into them because of fear of the unknow, fear of the darkness. In the darkness lie the answers, in the darkness lies the truth and the truth is that pure loving spirituality and direct connection to the divine resides within the darkness. When the noise subsides, and the programing is wiped from the hard drive what lies within the darkness is pure bliss. The ability to meditate and communicate with the divine, what could be more soothing and comforting than that.
How to Get Started
Once I had my breakthrough and understood what was holding me back, I immediately started my meditation practice. I no longer use guided meditations, instead I use soothing meditation music and nature sounds that remind me of being in nature. I no longer lie in bed under the covers. I now honor my practice and the universe.
My wife has a yoga studio in our home with an antique chair in the corner. It’s the most spiritual place in the house. Since my breakthrough, without setting and alarm, I wake up between 4 and 5 am every morning. As soon as I do, I go to the yoga room and sit in the chair. I set a timer for 20 minutes using Insight Timer App because it opens with a cool gong and ends with a cool soothing gong.
The rest of the time I sit in silence or with the soothing meditation music. The first few times I did this I sat in the dark and yelled in my head, “come and get me negative thoughts” and then sat there and waited. Nothing came, I waited, and nothing came. Soon I started to see red and yellow lights similar to when you see a bright light and close your eyes, these red and yellow lights dancing around.
I sat and marveled at them; this warm sensation poured over me that was very soothing and comforting and I realized that this is what people who talk about the benefits of meditation must be talking about, it’s a feeling of pure bliss. No fear, no noise, it’s wonderful. Soon ideas began coming, ideas for blog posts, ideas for a book, ideas for my business. I was hooked!
Today I meditate this way early in the morning and before I go to bed for 20 minutes. I never miss doing it because it feels so good. I almost always get some sort of message each time I meditate.
Here are 6 Tips to Get You Started
1. Don’t stay in bed, let the Universe know you are ready to connect.
2. Find a sacred place, honor your practice by finding a place in your home dedicated to your new meditation practice.
3. Sit in silence or use soothing meditation music and challenge the noise, the negativity and the distractions to come and get you. See what appears, there is a good possibility that nothing will appear. But if it does, write these down and take them to a coach, mentor, therapist in order to help you process what you find.
If only darkness comes and no messages come to mind what I do when that happens is add background noise with nature sounds. This type of music helps you to enhance positive energy inside your mind and body. It is also very helpful to activate your chakras. Below is a YouTube video that I love to use as background noise.
4. Make sure it’s dark, I wear an eye mask in order to ensure that absolutely no external light disrupts me. I have found that the darker it is in my mind the easier it is to connect.
5. Early morning, the best time is in early morning. Try not to look at any social media or emails, go right to the practice. You are still a bit groggy, so it makes it that much easier to get into the meditative sate.
6. Right before bed, if you’re like me more is better, not true, but in this case, it is for me. At night after my wife goes to bed and the house is quiet, I go back to my space and reflect on my day in silent meditation. I sleep more deeply and soundly every night because of this practice.
So, this is how I developed my meditation practice. It was a very long journey to get here, 46 years to be exact. My hope is through my story you can get there much faster because the healing power of meditation can not be measured. I have never felt so much peace, joy and bliss in my life, I will be practicing the rest of my life.
For those of you struggling with meditation and can’t find a way to disconnect from the anxiety, stress and overwhelm of your daily life you can also reach out to me for coaching. I will help you uncover the blockages preventing you from meditating and quieting the noise. The same way my coach did with me.
For more information and to Set up a Free Consultation click here Omar Pinto Coaching