Sheila's Tip for Quieting the Mind

Sometimes when I meditate my mind just won’t settle down.
We all know what this is like: The house is quiet, we’ve got our candle lit and we have a rare 20 minutes to ourselves to meditate. And yet, our mind is frantically jumping from one distraction to the next.
My friend Sheila, who leads our Sunday night meditation group*, has a great tip for helping quiet our mind during meditation.
Before sitting, Sheila dedicates a few minutes to writing in a notebook. She empties her mind of any of the random thoughts that she might need to process, let go of, or remember later.
Sheila tells me, “despite having a calendar, apps on the phone, etcetera, I keep details of things in my head and miraculously, they surface when they need to. When meditating, though, I find all those ‘reminders’ that bubble up to be distracting.”
She continues, “Sometimes there are bits of conversations and experiences that resurface because they feel unfinished. Often I replay these thoughts where I felt hurt or I get concerned that I left the wrong impression  and sometimes I don't even know the underlying 'why' until I revisit it. I write all of it down because it means that there is something there that requires further attention on my part.”
Sheila concludes, “After a few minutes of unloading my mind on paper, I feel ready to dedicate myself to my practice. I find sitting quietly comes more easily.”
I love Sheila’s practice and in trying it myself I find it very practical and effective.
We need some dedicated time to reflect and process. I find it helpful to do this separately from my Zazen where I am trying to let go of thoughts and return to the breath, slowly building my ability to quiet the mind and focus.
After engaging in this writing exercise, I find it easier to let go of a nagging thought when it comes up during my meditation. Consider giving this practice a try and let me know how it goes. I’d like to hear from you.
May your practice go well!
Anthony A. Cernera, M.Ed.
* Sheila runs our Sunday night meditation group that meets weekly at 8pm EST by conference call. We meditate together, discuss a topic and you are always welcome to join us. Email for details. 

Recommended Link: Guided Meditation from Tricycle: 

Quote of the Week: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson