Yesterday was a pretty busy day out of the house for this introvert – I taught 4 yoga classes, and I meet with a private client. For ease of conversation, lets call my client Dan. Dan and I have only been working together for 3 weeks, he came to me asking if I could teach him how to mediate. After our initial chit chat, I realized Dan already knew HOW to meditate, what he really needed help with was incorporating meditation into his daily life. Dan is not unusual.
The real challenge lies not in the meditation itself, but creating and keeping up a regular practice.
Meditation only works if we practice it. Thinking about meditation does dick all.
Meditation is incredibly simple, at first glance, it seems SO simple, we may undervalue what it is we are doing. You don’t need to pay anyone to teach you to mediate (I don’t charge for this). You already have everything you need to mediate – in fact, all you need is a mind & breath. You can even learn to mediate if you are paralyzed in a hospital bed – and in those circumstances I could not think of a better skill to master.
So how then, does someone go about creating an enduring mediation practice? Simple – you make it a habit, like anything else you do on a daily basis.
Nearing the end of our initial meeting I gave Dan the exact set of instructions you see at the end of this article, and told him to complete them EVERY DAY, regardless of what else was going on in his life. No exceptions, no excuses.
We met for the second time 3 weeks later. In that time, Dan went on holidays to Singapore and resigned from his job. It would have been easy for Dan to get derailed from his practice especially with 2 major life events happening in just a few weeks – but he didn’t.
Why? Because all he had to do was sit for 5 minutes each day. The goal was to create consistency – regardless of duration. In other words, we started small.
So what was the result of mediating for only 5 minutes a day for 3 weeks?
During our conversation last night, I asked Dan – “So, hows it going?” To which he replied:
“I feel more calm, and more centered. When confrontation comes up, I don’t react immediately. It seems like I have more time to choose my reactions, rather than acting unconsciously”
Total time Dan spent mediating 105 minutes.
The moral of the story is this – Don’t over complicate this shit.
Other than the instructions below – the best advice I can give to anyone trying to incorporate mediation into their lives is this:
Commit to a daily practice. Make is so easy that you have no excuse. If you miss 1 day, go easy on yourself. Life happens, and this practice is a life long journey. If you miss 2 days in a row, pull your head in, and sit your ass down to mediate.
1. Find a comfortable pain free position to mediate in – we worked on this together. You can mediate sitting in a chair, sitting on the floor with legs crossed – experiment. There is no right or wrong was to sit for mediation, but try to have your back relatively straight. It is best to sit, rather than lie down – you give yourself a better chance to stay awake.
2. Set a timer for 5 minutes – I use my iphone. Unless you have someone to ring a gong when your time is up, it’s best to set a timer.
3. Close your eyes – I don’t need to explain this right?
4. Take your attention to the sensation of breath moving in and out of your nose Focus your attention on the area below the nose & above the upper lip. Notice the sensation of air moving over this area. It can be subtle, you are training your mind to a) become sensitive b) develop discipline.
5. When your mind wanders – bring it back and start again. No judgment, just start again.
6. When the timer goes off – your done. If you like, acknowledge your efforts in some way. I press my palms together in front of my heart and thank myself for taking the time to mediate.
7. Repeat this daily for 3 weeks – when you can complete 21 days of this in a row, double your time to 10 minutes daily. If you miss more than 3 days out of 21, start again.
Consider this MEDITATION – STAGE 1. We get many benefits from stage 1, and after you develop the sensitivity and discipline required, we can explore further. However, for now, focus on creating the habit of showing up for practice.
“Just as we look to food to fuel our physical selves, we should look to meditation and prayer to fuel our spiritual selves” – Marianne Williamson
If you are struggling with mediation, or you have questions leave them in the comments below. I’m no guru, but I will do the best I can to answer.
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