People have a wrong image about meditation. When they think of meditation, they visualize monks under a tree, sages circled around fire or some hipster on the side of a road. But meditation is so much more than that. Meditation is not a wowo thing that only monks and hipsters do. Absolutely not. In fact, meditation is a fundamental necessity for everyone living in this noisy busy world.
I have been meditating daily for an entire year now. The simple daily practice of meditation has not just helped me become a more mindful person, but also be self aware and know myself better. Those 20 mins of absolute silence and concentration, arms me with a mental focus and clarity for the entire day. Nothing has ever helped me become more aware and present as this daily habit of meditation has. There are dozens of benefits of meditation, but for me, I have clearly noticed and felt that meditation has made me more productive, calm, creative, compassionate and a happy person overall. I personally request you, if you haven’t started meditating, start now.
One thing I learned the hard way, however, was that meditation is not as easy as it seems – sitting down crossed legged closing your eyes and taking deep breathes. Nope. That is just a position for getting ready for the actual meditation. The essence of meditation is not the breathing and sitting still part, but the calmness you create inside your mind, focusing only on one area, especially your breathing. But don’t misunderstand me here. Meditation is simple, just not easy.
On average, a person has about 60,000 thoughts in a single day. Can you imagine? 60,000 thoughts! Fhew. When you start meditating, trying to focus on your breathing, your brain starts doing what it’s best at – worrying, planning and complaining. Suddenly, you remember that you haven’t replied to one of your friend’s text. What will she think? You start creating to-do list for the day. You start analysing your present situation and past regrets and start worrying about your future. And before you know it, you quit meditation by making excuses like,” This meditation is hard!” or “I don’t have time for this. I got work to do.” or “It is so boring” or any other similar excuses.
In doesn’t mean that, however, during meditation, you need to completely avoid and stop your thoughts. No. Instead, acknowledge those thoughts and then let it go. Don’t let that thought or idea consume you. I like how Elizabeth puts it in her wonderful memoir, Eat Pray Love:
“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.”
If you let every small thought wander around and grow in your mind, you will soon get overwhelmed and exhausted than you were before you started. And if you try to avoid all of your thoughts, you will probably fall asleep. The solution my friend, is to find the balance between the two. Watch this TED talk by Andy Puddicombe on mindful meditation.
One thing that I found useful, while starting out, was using meditative, calm melodies in the background. It helps you focus and stops your mind from wandering off.
Also, many beginners make the mistake of starting out big – trying to meditate for half an hour straight in their first attempt. That is ludacris, and also one of the main reason why most people don’t stick with it. We need to make meditation a habit. Not just a thing we do once a week. And in order to build a habit, commitment and consistency plays a vital role. So, if you decide to start, start small. Start with 2 mins of daily meditation for a week. Then grow up to 5 mins. Then 7 mins and so on.
How to Form the Habit of Meditation
It’s pretty simple, but the doing is everything:
- Commit to just 2 minutes a day. Start simply if you want the habit to stick. You can do it for 5 minutes if you feel good about it, but all you’re committing to is 2 minutes each day.
- Pick a time and trigger. Not an exact time of day, but a general time, like morning when you wake up, or during your lunch hour. The trigger should be something you already do regularly, like drink your first cup of coffee, brush your teeth, have lunch, or arrive home from work.
- Find a quiet spot. Sometimes early morning is best, before others in your house might be awake and making lots of noise. Others might find a spot in a park or on the beach or some other soothing setting. It really doesn’t matter where — as long as you can sit without being bothered for a few minutes. A few people walking by your park bench is fine.
- Sit comfortably. Don’t fuss too much about how you sit, what you wear, what you sit on, etc. I personally like to sit on a pillow on the floor, with my back leaning against a wall, because I’m very inflexible. Others who can sit cross-legged comfortably might do that instead. Still others can sit on a chair or couch if sitting on the floor is uncomfortable. Zen practitioners often use a zafu, a round cushion filled with kapok or buckwheat. Don’t go out and buy one if you don’t already have one. Any cushion or pillow will do, and some people can sit on a bare floor comfortably.
- Focus on your breath. As you breathe in, follow your breath in through your nostrils, then into your throat, then into your lungs and belly. Sit straight, keep your eyes open but looking at the ground and with a soft focus. If you want to close your eyes, that’s fine. As you breathe out, follow your breath out back into the world. If it helps, count … one breath in, two breath out, three breath in, four breath out … when you get to 10, start over. If you lose track, start over. If you find your mind wandering (and you will), just pay attention to your mind wandering, then bring it gently back to your breath. Repeat this process for the few minutes you meditate. You won’t be very good at it at first, most likely, but you’ll get better with practice.
And that’s it. It’s a very simple practice, but you want to do it for 2 minutes, every day, after the same trigger each day. Do this for a month and you’ll have a daily meditation habit.
Every article that I write in this blog has one and only one purpose, to help at least one other human being live a better and fulfilled life. Thank you for reading my blog.
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