We often approach tasks with the attitude of having to prove ourselves and may have an idea that to be successful in meditation we have to make our mind quiet by stopping thinking. We may have tried in the past and not succeed in this and now think we can’t meditate, that we’ve failed. Or we approach it for the first time with the desire to have a quiet mind, or the desire to get away from the upsetting and difficult thoughts that cause us pain. But doing this is simply adding to what is already there. The mind creates thoughts – that’s what it does and no act of will is going to stop it. Thinking “I want a quiet and calm mind” is just adding another thought to the already busy mind!
With mindfulness we learn a different approach, one of simply attending to what is there in our experience naming it and then returning attention to the breath. We notice “feeling anxious” or “Worried thoughts”, but then let go of trying to solve or change what we observe and instead return to being fully present in our body through resting attention on the breath. As we do this there can be a letting go of the things causing the worry or tension, but it is natural rather than forced and gives rise to a sense of calm and peace that is rooted in acceptance rather than aversion.