There are times when I have difficulty shifting into a meditative frame of mind – when thoughts do not give way to a quiet ocean of peace, or waves of color, mostly deep blue for me. This is usually early in the morning. My meditation space is darkened and quiet as are the phones, and I set a timer for 20 minutes. My fertile environment for this purpose is created, yet thoughts predominate, robbing me of the tranquility I seek. At this point it is very tempting to judge myself, or to feel bad because I am unable to do ‘the spiritual thing.’ Why does this happen? Thoughts get in the way when I am preoccupied with tasks e.g., a dinner party or a project deadline; or when something is unresolved and feels troubling; or for a reason I don’t understand. What’s a meditator to do? There are likely to be many strategies to use at this point, but let me suggest two approaches which work for me: 1.Saying a mantra. I recite ‘I AM’ or ‘I AM LINDA.’ I like the I AM because it electromagnetically connects me to my Higher Self which is another name for the I AM PRESENCE. Any mantra can be used. I repeat the mantra for the duration of the meditation.2.Continuing the meditation, labeling thoughts as ‘thinking,’and coming back to center which is the heart space in the middle of the body. When thoughts won’t go away I think of it as a choppy meditation. It allows me to show compassion for myself; to see myself as imperfectly perfect. When I love myself I can accept this variability. It’s an example of the variety of who I am and what I accomplish. And anyway, tomorrow is a new day, and another opportunity to shift into that quiet ocean of peace!