A subject very close to my own heart. The calmest times in my life have been spent meditating in a quiet room, in my garden or out in nature. Many people ask me how to meditate, how to shut out the external noise, and avoid the mental distractions – you know the "Did I remember to feed the cat?" - "Did I make myself clear when I was talking to my boss this morning?" - I must remember to..."
I try to get my students to understand how very simple this process can be and furthermore that its simplicity is the key to its usefulness.
To begin with - you will hear external noises, traffic, people, televisions, mobile phones etc., but you don’t have to give them your attention, you can simply choose not to engage with the noise, allow it to drift into the background, - learn to assume an air of detachment towards the noise and you will be surprised just how much the less the noise bothers you.
And as for the intrusive thoughts, have I done this, did I do that? What if? The trick here, is to allow the thought to float across your mind and without trying to answer the question or think of a solution to a problem, you can imagine the thought as a post it note that floats across in front of you then passes out beyond your line of vision. Let the thought come and go, but don’t engage with it, the internal questions and doubts will soon dissipate, once you stop focusing on them.
Have you ever gazed into a candle’s flame or studied the petals on a daisy? Or maybe watched water cascading down a waterful, noticing all the swishes and swirls, come and go like a dance that has been celebrated since th dawn of time, but often unnoticed by the minds of men? Then you already know how to meditate – either find something very simple to study and focus your mind upon it - or simply close your eyes and imagine a scene in front of you. View that scene in great detail, be aware of all its glory in full 3d splendour, then as you drift away from your daily cares and woes, embrace the complete rest to your body mind a soul.
You can bring the deeply relaxed feeling back into the conscious world with you ready to view again, whenever you feel the need to relax or switch off for a few moments.
Warning, don't do this while driving or operating machinery - and if you have been meditating always drink some water and give yourself some time to come back to normality before you continue your day.