Meditation Tip #3: Empty your mind
This is the hardest part and probably the key to meditation. The idea is that we rarely give our minds a chance to relax. Sleep will restore our bodies, but even when we are asleep, our minds are still active and dreaming. This is, of course nonsense: we only dream in the shallower stages (REM) of sleep. Most of sleep time is spent in deeper sleep stages when our brains are quite chilled out.
The deeper stages of sleep aren’t as well researched because, well, I guess even sleep scientists find dreams darn pretty interesting. It seems though that deep sleep might be a chance for your brain to shut-down and selectively forget some of the stuff that you’ve processed during the day.
In any case, meditation can replicate some of the tranquil level of brain activity that is experienced in sleep and it can’t hurt, so…
The trick – and it’s a trick that takes some practice – is to allow thoughts to come up and let them go.
Concentrating on your breathing is a good start (see Tip #2). If you meditate with your eyes open, allow your eyes to soft focus on a point.
Chanting a mantra might work for you. I’m sure there are entire books written documenting the effects of different mantras. For my money, I wouldn’t go past “Omm”.
One technique that I invented for myself (I’m curious as to whether it has been independently discovered) is “photographing the thoughts”. When a thought surfaces, imagine a polaroid photo being taken of it. Visualise the image frozen in front of you. Imagine it passing slowly through my head. As the photo passes through your brain it takes the thought with you. As over thoughts arise, repeat the process.