Do I Have to Meditate to Become Mindful

Being a mindful person, I will say no. What works for me may not work for someone else. It is our own personal discovery to find out what will allow us to live mindfully. For me, meditating was the ticket. Now there are many ways to meditate and I have to say that I enjoy some of them, but not all. Becoming mindful doesn’t require you to meditate, but it does require you to learn how to quiet the monkey chatter that rattles through your head all the moments that you are awake. It is the monkey chatter that distracts us from being able to focus on that one thing in this moment that we are experiencing. It always wants to drag us into the past or catapult us into the future. If given enough power, it is this monkey chatter that will drive a person mad.

In my own personal experience, it was meditating that allowed me to observe the monkey chatter, without engaging in it or getting caught up in what was going through my head. It was when I meditated that I was able to experience something inside myself that was quiet and peaceful, where the monkey chatter quits chattering. It is only in that quiet, that peace that you are able to observe the monkey chatter for what it is. Our minds are made to solve problems, so it naturally turns everything into a problem. There is usually not a problem with a situation, but the problem lies in your thoughts about the situation, and what you tell yourself about it. And so our opinions about things are created. Meditating works very well at not allowing the monkey chatter to take over.

More About Monkey Chatter

When I first heard the word “monkey chatter,” all I could see was a little monkey in a tree screeching, making no sense whatsoever, just making noise. Well, that is exactly what the monkey chatter in your mind is, something that just wants to make noise. Monkey chatter is that voice, that talks non-stop, making opinions and judgments, and reminding you of all the times you failed, or screwed up, or made a mistake, or telling you that you are no good, not worthy, and useless. It is very rare that the monkey chatter is filled with positive encouragement.

Monkey chatter is also those thoughts about what you need to do later, or what to have for dinner, I have to call the dentist, they are either meandering in the past or catapulting into the future. The thoughts have nothing to do with the experience that you are having at that very moment, and so you miss so much of what life has to offer, because you are all caught up with the thoughts in your head, the monkey chatter. It is the very cause of what distracts you from experiencing every moment to the fullest, regardless of what the moment holds. And it will be running non-stop unless you can find a way to either observe the thoughts without judgment, or just let them go. It’s okay to deal with a thought later if it is necessary. You don’t need to figure out what you are having for dinner right at the moment you are trying to experience inner peace. You can figure it out when you are done have your quiet time.

Types of Meditating

As I said before there are many types of meditating, so there are many choices when it comes to reaching a meditation state. It does not only have to happen in the lotus position, on a mountain top, in a totally quiet place. And that is a good thing, because most of us cannot leave our lives behind and go see mindfulness. We must learn how to do it in the midst of all the chaos, and family, and commitments, and jobs.

  • Sitting Meditation: Believe it or not, there are many types of sitting meditation. There is Zen, Mindfulness, Mantra, Taoist. You only have to google types of meditation to find all of them. I believe this is probably one of the more difficult types of meditating to accomplish. It is very hard for many people to just sit still and not do anything, but be. We have been programmed to believe that it is in the doing that we achieve thing, not in the being. And when you are in the mindset, the idea of sitting for an extended period doing nothing is probably not something you will try.
  • Moving Meditation: Yoga, Qigong, Tai Chi, walking, running, biking, working out, swimming, dancing, Chakradance. These meditating styles work very well for some people. And even if you can just start walking it makes a world of difference. We have become a world of sitters, moving a little can never be bad for us. It keeps our blood and energy circulating so we can enjoy health and wellness.
  • Creative Meditation: This is the meditating that artists, musicians, athletes are good at. I can’t imagine that Picasso was worrying about what he was going to have for dinner when he was painting. Both musicians and athletes get into, what is called, “the zone,” when they are playing their game. I have two sons, who when they step on the basketball court, every worry or concern they had before just melts into the hardwood. Basketball is the only thing on their mind from the time they gear up until they walk out the door. So I truly believe that if you have a creative talent, it will be one of your best places to reach a meditative state, while you are in the zone.

I am lucky that I enjoy all three types of meditation, all at different times. I also add some meditating to my natural healing work I do on myself, which makes my healing work very mindful, but that is for another post. Like I said before, whether or not you meditate is totally a personal choice. But in my personal experience, I think it is meditating that led me to living mindfully.

Why Meditation?

My first answer has to be because it is what led me to mindfulness. And the only experience I can relate is my own. That is why meditating is a very personal experience. For me, meditation came before everything else, the books, the energy healing, the essential oils, the reflexology, the acupressure, the Reiki, the chakras. It was while meditating that I was aware of my first experience of being present in the moment, and the joy and love I felt for no particular reason at all. All I knew was I wanted to experience that again, and I knew how to get there.

Second, it is very hard to be mindful if you get caught up in the monkey chatter, it is only a distraction. In order to focus on one thing at one time, you need to learn how to focus that way. It doesn’t take too many shiny things, or disturbing thoughts to take our attention from what we are trying to focus on. Simply put, meditation teaches you/trains your mind to focus on one thing at a time. It is a known fact that your mind cannot focus on two things at the same time, so if you can focus on aspects of meditating, more sitting or moving types, like your breath, or a certain word or phrase, or a visualization, you can train your mind to more easily focus on one thing at a time.

Just Find Your Zone

However it is that you need to experience the quieting of the monkey chatter, and a feeling of complete focus, is entirely up to you. If you are having a hard time figuring something out on your own, I recommend meditating. There are so many ways to do it, and none of them are hard, especially if you find joy in the activity. Don’t listen to the haters, the ones who say you are wasting your time. Listen to your heart, if it makes you feel good, then by god, you really should be doing it. Anytime is a very good time to practice mindfulness…it really will change your life.

4 Comments

  • Michael

    Hi Lori.
    Thanks for this great article. I am not a particularly experienced meditator, but I have tried enough to figure out that the “moving types of meditation” or “being in the zone” are what works best for me. Simply because these types of meditation are what almost automatically stops the money chatter for me. I do yoga, play music, do some drawing, and love walking in nature, so there are many places this comes naturally to me. I find it a lot harder to just sit and not think… That’s when the monkey chatter starts. 😉
    But I sometimes think that because of this fact, I would actually benefit a lot more from doing the sitting types of meditation. Simply because I would have to try harder in order to do it… Do you think that’s true or not? Or do you think it’s just my thinking that is conditioned to think that I have to practice (i.e. “do”) in order to benefit from it…?

    I love your site. Thanks for all the great information!

    Best wishes,
    Michael

    • Lori Pedersen

      Michael,

      Thank you for the kind words. I am so happy that you have found ways to quiet the monkey chatter, consider yourself lucky. I, myself, love sitting meditation. I feel that it can take you a little deeper than the other types. It’s possible you are thinking that way because of a “belief,” but not necessarily. It may be your soul trying to nudge you…souls like to do that. You might try starting with some meditation music. I found some wonderful videos on YouTube. I also utilized binaural beats when I first started. I, like you, really struggled with the monkey chatter when I first began sitting. I was then able to finally focus on my breath, which is now my go to. It gives me the ability to be grateful for every breath I take at that moment. And remember, if you still find it hard, don’t worry about it. Good luck on your journey, I wish you much love and light.

      Lori

  • LanNSR

    Hi,
    Just my humble viewpoint, i prefer creative meditation. i played guitar sometimes when i got stress. Because it helps me to ignore all those annoying things by focusing and listening to the rhythm and chords.

    • Lori Pedersen

      I think it is awesome that playing guitar can create inner peace for you. Like I said, it is all very personal, so kudos to you for finding something that makes things a little better.

      Love and light –

      Lori

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