Today I am going to discuss some strategies that help us focus our mind and gain the most out of meditation. Firstly, I’m going to clarify what I mean by ‘meditation’, because meditation means different things to different people.

You probably already know that one meditation style is guided visualization. In a guided visualization you are taken on an imaginative journey of some kind. A guided visualization is helpful for a busy mind because it keeps the mind occupied. It helps to focus your thoughts on relaxation and the imaginative scenario, which reduces general mind chatter. Over time, the mind quietens, and you enter a peaceful state.

Many meditators do not need the direction that a guided visualization provides. In a less directed meditation style, the person settles and lifts their energy, relaxes, and creates a space in their mind where they spend time with their own spirit (their ‘higher self’). They may also invite their spiritual helpers and friends to draw close to them, so that there is a blending of energies. In this shared vibration, the meditator may have a conversation with their spirit contacts, ask for healing, or just enjoy the closeness of the relationship.

The difficulty for many people is they would like to choose this non-guided style of meditation. They would love to move away from visualization, and be able to just sit in the stillness of their mind and spirit. Unfortunately, in terms of creating that inner space for a quiet meditation, their mind is not their friend. Many people struggle with being able to quieten their minds and turn off endless thoughts.

This article will share strategies I learned during my experience as a hypnotherapist, meditation teacher and counsellor, that help focus and quieten the mind for meditation.

While I was working in clinical practice, clients would arrive for their hypnotherapy appointments and say, “I don’t think you’ll be able to hypnotize, me because. I’ve got a very strong mind.’

I always responded, “That’s great, because a strong mind is a very useful tool to help you focus on what you want to achieve”.

Therefore, don’t think that you won’t be able to meditate if you have strong mind. A strong mind can be a great friend to you in all spiritual work.

Meditation is not about having a vacant mind and hoping that spiritual insight just ‘drops in’. Meditation is very much about focus, intention and creating a space for the targeted outcome that you are seeking. If that outcome is to communicate with your spiritual guides, set that focus and intention before you start. Setting your intention is a key strategy for quietening your mind.

You need to decide what it is that you want to do. If you just close your eyes and think, “What am I going to meditate on now?”, then you’re not setting yourself or the spirit world up to know what it is that you’re hoping to get out of this meditation. A strong intention before you begin is essential. Have an intention for what you are wanting to achieve. Are you wanting to sit in your own spiritual light and spend time with your higher self, or do you also want to connect with the spirit world?

Always remember that you are a powerful spiritual being. Each of us is a spirit in a vessel that we call a soul, and this soul is in another vessel that we call the body. We are on Earth having human experiences, because we chose to do so.

Terminology can be confusing when the words ‘spirit’ and ‘soul’ are discussed. I can only share my understanding of these terms. From my perspective, each of us is a spirit that was created by the Divine Consciousness many call ‘God,’ ‘the Source,’ ‘the Universe’ and many other names. When we incarnate, we come in the vessel of a soul. The soul stores our lessons and records our experiences. After each life, these experiences are added to our accumulative spiritual journey, which is far greater than what we understand while we are living one life, on Earth. We have our soul until our spirit is ready, through finding its way back to Love, to become pure light and re-join the Divine Creator. This is a spiritualist way of looking at things, and if you hold a different perspective, that’s absolutely fine.

After setting your intention, you must learn not to argue with your mind.

Imagine that you find yourself distracted by lots of thoughts while trying to meditate. Your say to yourself, “Oh, for goodness sakes, be quiet! I’m supposed to be meditating! Shut Up!’

That doesn’t work, does it?

You can’t argue yourself into a quiet mind-space because the mind will always have another argument. It’s like a child. My granddaughter is currently three years old, and she’s learnt to ask, “Why?” There are about six “Why?”s to every statement, and our minds can be like that. Don’t argue with your mind. What you need to do is get it working in your favour. It’s not like you can shove your mind out of your brain and instruct it to come back later when it is behaving. The mind and you need to have a co-operative relationship during a meditation.

One strategy is to just observe thoughts as come in. In other words, you notice them and then you let them go. You release each thought without attaching to it.

As soon as you attach importance or judgment to a thought, you have switched to a left brain, logical approach. In contrast, spiritual work, including meditation, requires your intuitive right brain to be in control.

To help you observe and release thoughts, you can imagine they are like clouds passing through the sky, or like leaves falling from a tree.

It also helps to adopt a detached attitude to the thoughts you are observing. Stay away from judging yourself. Have a curious yet detached approach such as, “Oh, okay. That’s interesting.” Then let the thought go. Remain neutral and detached. Try to stay in that energy and mind-set.

You may have many concerns or tasks on your mind. Some days you may know that observing and releasing thoughts will be difficult. Here is another strategy I use, and it can also be helpful if you experience trouble going to sleep at night.

Before you start your meditation, make a list of everything you can anticipate that might come up as interruptions. Write down your worries and any tasks that are occupying your mind. Where you can, make a brief note about how and when you will deal with them later. Construct a plan for later action.

This plan allows your logical left brain, (that is trying to keep you organized and safe), to understand that you will take care of its concerns soon. Therefore, it is okay to relax in this moment because you will take care of business, later.

When a concern is out of my control or not under my influence, I surrender it to the Love and Light of Spirit for healing. Do this before you meditate. I also imagine taking off and laying down the emotional cloak of energy that I was carrying for these concerns. Surrendering means you truly do let go and let ‘God’ take charge.

Another very common strategy to quieten the mind is to place your focus on your breath.

This can be effective, but does require practice. Many of us are very capable of breathing deeply and still thinking at the same time. I’m very practical and I know how the brain works. I’ve been working in the spiritual context since the early 1990s, and I assure you when I started, I had a very busy mind.

It’s important that you use your breath in a way that’s works for you. You might choose to count the number of seconds that you inhale and exhale. Slower, elongated breaths are best rather than shallow breaths from the chest. You don’t want to hyperventilate. Take slow, comfortable breaths down to your diaphragm. You might slowly count in to the count of four and out to the count of six, depending on your lung capacity.

Counting your breaths can give you a focus, which may stop the general white noise and chatter that’s going on in the mind. Set the intention that with every breath, you relax deeper into yourself. Relax deeper and deeper with every breath. After a few minutes, let the numbers fade away in your mind – you no longer need to count your breaths.

There is more that you can do with the breath, because you may get bored with counting. In my meditation group, I sometimes guide the sitters to breathe in a range of colors, where each color relates to a feeling. They decide the colors that resonate with specific feelings. Each person quietly chooses their own colors, and they breathe each color in, as they relax. I start with a feeling that is quite energized, such as ‘joy,’ and then gradually move to less active feelings, such as ‘compassion’ and ‘peace’. I encourage my meditation group to take slow breaths and breathe the color (of that feeling) right down into the core of their being, into every cell.

Once they are in the energy and color of a feeling, such as ‘peace’ or ‘calmness’, I invite them to relax in an ocean of that feeling and color. I suggest they can float weightlessly as they relax without any effort. Hopefully, by this time, the mind has become quiet and the intuitive aspect of each person is working. From here, I guide my group to connect with the energy of their spirit or the spirit world. I always ensure they connect only with their loved ones or their highest guides who come with Love and Light. Do not just open your mind to any passing spirit. It is like inviting unknown guests into your home.

One other way that you can use your breath is to imagine that you are coming down (or going up) a flight of long steps. Every breath guides you to take another step, and you relax more with every step and breath you take.

Some people have the sense of ‘coming down’ into meditation, while others feel that they ‘lift up’ into the Light. That’s entirely your choice. You can do both. You can first imagine coming down a series of steps, one at a time, relaxing more with every breath. Once you reach physical relaxation, you can imagine a strong beam of Light shining from high above you, and you can sense yourself floating up into the Light, higher and higher.

Single focus meditations are good training tools, though they are not used as often as in previous decades. Our minds are no longer trained to focus on one image for extended periods. The candle meditation is one that I teach. When you close your eyes, imagine an image of a candle with a flame. It’s there in the front of your mind. The candle can be any size, any color, and it’s lit, so there is a flame. Your job is to hold the focus of that candle and watch the flame. It sounds simple, but it is not. To maintain the candle focus for more than a few seconds without your mind flitting on to something else, is quite difficult.

I ask my group members to watch the candle from the front position for a minute, and then ask them to look at the candle from all sides – from the left, behind the candle, to the right, above the candle and below. This creates a sense of space in the third eye and strengthens clairvoyant vision. It is a very focused activity, and is a disciplinary practice for meditation. The longer you are able to hold the flame of the candle without changing the candle’s colour or tinkering with the details, the more you are training your mind to focus on one thing and hold a steady vibration. This is helpful for your own intuitive messages and for messages from the spirit world.

The last suggestion also involves using your imagination. Consider creating an imaginary place where you can enjoy your meditation. In this peaceful place, your spiritual friends can also be invited to join you. Once again, your mind is given a task until you are relaxed enough that it no longer interferes. Engross yourself in making your peaceful place very ‘real’ by using your senses. What do you see? Hear? Feel? Smell? Then, relax in a comfortable spot and enjoy your meditation.

There have been a range of strategies to help you focus a busy mind in this article. I hope that one or more will prove useful to you, should you need some assistance with quietening and focusing your thoughts.

Have a wonderful week,

Love and Light,

Michelle x