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Even for us non-meditators, the process of sitting down to meditate can be burdensome. There is the endless one-on-one attention needed to record one’s thoughts and feelings, to process them with a spirit of wonder and understanding, and then to receive a cleansing release of all these emotions, beliefs, and intentions into a peaceful limbo that somehow resides in all of us inside our consciousness. In the process, we start to express our raw, emotional thoughts.

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I often say, “For those who know how to meditate and have the will to do so, meditation can be like riding a bike. But, for those of us who are starting from scratch, we can do some things to make it easier. Meditation doesn’t take longer, just easier to start.”

I love the idea of “listening to my breath.” Unless we have been meditating for some time, we can feel a bit overwhelmed, bringing all our thoughts to mind. To a rookie meditator, this is a bit of a shock, and gives the message, “What is this? I thought we were taking it easy!”

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Here are some possible distractions to help people return to what their thoughts are:

Spend less time jumping up and down and puking. Give it one minute.

Listen to your breath as you find it sometimes. You need to take a few deep breaths at a time to calm yourself.

Decide that your mind is working itself into a frenzy and let it stop for a moment.

Let your mind be quiet for a few minutes.

Relax your body in addition to your mind.

Some people enjoy holding a pressurized gas stove flame out for 10 minutes.

Nah. This is overkill. But there is another way to cool down a heated or stressed-out mind. It works, to an extent.

Practice building your feelings.

I am a big fan of stretching. It is a huge act of grounding, grounding in turn your thinking, calming your mind, even giving you a bit of respite from the racing thoughts. When I start to feel some tension, I walk back from my desk toward my kitchenette. I can keep thinking, but instead of digging in to my cares, I can relax a bit in my surroundings and then return to meditating.

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What if your exercise bike is backed up? As the saying goes, “If you can’t get off of it fast enough, you’re probably not moving fast enough.” Fill your mind with thoughts of making coffee or doing a nice massage, or watching the birds in your yard, or taking a walk. When your mind starts racing, take five or 10 deep breaths and then make your way back to work.

Remember you need to breathe. Breathe into your yoga pants or your business suit.

I love using the phrase “calling that rocket,” a blessing to indicate that the metaphor (and you) are being questioned and examined in an appropriate manner, to aid in entering the void that you call upon. As you start your meditation, imagine “that rocket” (your mind) being grilled and probed. All of your questions and instructions are, I’m going to assume, also a lesson for that outer world.