An older post from “No More Dirty Looks,” but remarkably timely given my penchant for meditation coverage lately…
This is a pep-rally post: I want you all to do the challenge, and I want to make it easier because meditation can seem really hard! Actually, though, it’s not that hard—it’s really not. But I didn’t know that before, and so, herewith, 11 things that might make a daily meditation practice feel a little more manageable. I know everyone’s practice is totally different! So this is just me sharing what I have learned, because had I known these things when I started (and stopped, and started, and stopped), I think it might have stuck with it a lot sooner.
1. Use a timer. There are apps for that, and they make cute gong sounds when the time’s up. You can set it for five minutes to start, and then just decide in advance that for the next five minutes, you can’t do anything but sit there. You can think about anything you want, but you can’t DO anything. Five minutes may feel like an eternity, but if you can brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day, or you can gchat with your best friend for four hours every day, you can sit still for five. Just decide you will, and then do it.
2. Don’t worry about whether or not you are doing it right. There are a million different ways to make bread. Every loaf has a few key ingredients. Beyond that, they may vary in flavor, texture, time in the oven—but it’s all still bread. Think of meditation the same way. As long as you have the basics down—sitting still, not doing other stuff at the same time, being quiet, then doing it again tomorrow—you’re doing a fine job.
3. Understand that when thoughts come up—and they will—it doesn’t mean you blew it. The mind never shuts up completely—even when we think it’s quiet, there are other channels running in the background. It’s OK even if those channels are blaring on high volume in the foreground, also. Over time this will just happen less.
Trust the process. And in the meantime, accept that your mind is not going to shut up, probably ever, and that’s OK. It will quiet down over time, though.
4. Get comfortable. When you first start meditating, you might find it’s really uncomfortable to sit cross legged in the middle of a room. (That’s because it is uncomfortable—until one day it isn’t anymore.) In yoga, they teach you to prop up your butt with pillows or blankets to get your hips higher than your knees. Why? Because it’s much easier to stack your spine and sit up if straight you do.