Meditation 101 : why you should do it & how to get started

Mark Manson writes "Meditation forces one to disidentify with their mind and emotions. It is perhaps the easiest to learn and most available personal developmental tool on the planet. The disabled can do it. Children can do it. Stephen Hawking can do it. Anyone with conscious awareness can practice it. You can do it on a crowded bus. You can do it in a monastery. You can do it in your bedroom. You can do it now as you read this. Experienced meditators can even do it while they sleep. It’s health benefits — mental, emotional, and physical — are innumerable and there are no side effects. You can learn to do it in as little as five minutes and once you learn you’ll never forget. Doing it as little 10 minutes a day can make you happier and healthier, and doing it as little as 30 minutes per day could change your life."

 

More and more people are being introduced to meditation via the mainstream, friends, or their own curiosity. However many students who have come to my classes have voiced, they believed that if they were thinking during meditation, then they were not doing it right, and it somehow doesn’t count. Many people give up on meditation because they believe they are not good at it, and therefore have no business doing it.

 

But thinking during your meditation time can also bring you great insights. You can become aware of what is important to you. You can determine your vibration by paying attention to your thoughts, and you certainly can become more aware of your emotions by first noticing your thoughts. So let go of any sense of perfectionism you have when it comes to meditation, and instead focus on the benefits.

 

Here are 10 easy tips to start meditating right now and maintain a daily practice.

1. Get comfortable.

We tend to make meditation more complicated and challenging than necessary. Take it easy. Start by taking a comfortable seat. If you're flexible sit cross-legged on the floor, on a meditation cushion, bolster or blanket  with your knees resting slightly below your hips. If you're not, sit in a chair with your feet on the floor.

2. Same "Bat Time," same "Bat Channel."

One of the most lucrative ways to coax the mind into submission is to create a ritual. Set a clearly designated space for meditation. This can be as simple as a thoughtfully placed candle, picture or stone. You'll also want to practice at the same time every day. Start with the same protocol for each meditation. Routine triggers the mind out of the logical, linear thinking of the left brain, into the intuitive, non-linear right hemisphere.

3. Sit tall.

Posture 101: Sit up nice and tall by straightening your spine. Sit in a chair or against a wall if you need to. Lengthen the spine to help increase your circulation and keep you alert.

4. Start small.

Start where you are. If 10 minutes seems overwhelming, begin with five. After a week, begin to add one minute to your practice each week until you build up to 30 minutes (or more) at a time.

5. Be nice to yourself (really nice!).

As renowned meditation teacher Sally Kempton says, "Meditation is Relationship."

Ultimately, it is all about your relationship to yourself. The way you do anything is the way you do everything. Meditation teaches us radical acceptance, compassion and unconditional love. Be sweet to your convoluted mind. Surrender to exactly who you are and what is happening  right here, right now. And don't forget to smile!

6. Note your excuses.

Meditation is a practice of self-inquiry. Observe the excuses you tell yourself  I'm too tired or I don't have time. You can carve 5 to 10 minutes out of your day. Notice how your mind can tend to rationalize when you break your commitment. Just observe and understand without judgment. Then recommit to your practice without making excuses.

7. Find a meditation buddy.

Accountability is the answer to your excuses. Find a buddy to commit to meditating with. Find a friend who is also beginning to meditate, or join a Facebook group or online course. Your struggle is normal…but it will get easier.

8. Practice makes perfect.

Or at least perfectly imperfect. As the Ashtanga guru, Patthabi Joissays, "Practice. Practice. Practice. All is coming."

Like anything in life, we get better with practice. Think of your meditation as bicep curls for the muscle of your mind. You are training your brain to focus, concentrate and let go. Over time, with consistency, you WILL become more skillful.

9. Just breathe.

The breath is a gateway to the realm beyond the mind — our higher consciousness. Our mind is addicted to analyzing the past or projecting into the future. BUT the breath is only in the here and now. Focus on your breath to anchor the mind into the present moment.

10. Start a meditation journal.

End your practice each day by observing the benefits of your practice. How do I feel? What is my emotional state or mood?

Make note of any changes so they register in your body and conscious mind. So next time you resist meditation, flip through the notes you made in your journal to remember these benefits. This will help you stay motivated and committed.

This top ten list was compiled via @mindbodygreen. Find more resources below:

By observing your mind, you realize you don't have to be slave to it. You realize it throws tantrums, gets grumpy, jealous, happy and sad but that it doesn't have to run you. Meditation is quite simply mental hygiene: clear out the junk, tune your talents, and get in touch with yourself. Think about it, you shower every day and clean your body, but have you ever showered your mind? As a consequence, you'll feel more clear and see things with greater perspective. "The quality of our life depends on the quality of our mind," writes Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. We can't control what happens on the outside but we do have a say over the quality of our mind.

 

Here's to finding peace within in. Namaste friends.

 

 

 

 

 

A moment of zen in Chicago

A moment of zen in Chicago