A homeowner mows his lawn to keep his yard tidy, attractive and manageable. An individual files taxes to live in accordance with state and federal laws. A runner jogs a marathon by discipline and devotion. Each activity requires consistent, timely and organized action for their success.
If you speak to a man, who skipped mowing the lawn for a year, he will tell you about the jungle that grew in his backyard. A taxpayer, who neglected to pay taxes, for years in row, can tell you about the chaos and costs ensued. The amateur runner, who didn’t train daily, will talk of the immensity of a race he couldn’t finish.
The same is true in developing a meditation practice. Beginners beware. Meditation is easy but it’s not simple. What do I mean by this? I mean that the same way a man mows, files taxes and runs a marathon he will arrive at a successful meditation practice. All of the above are made simple tasks by using the right tools, consistency and training.
The purpose of this article is to provide ten practical steps, which offer you the essential structure you need to make meditation easy.
While meditating is not under federal law it is under divine law and abidance is healthily rewarded. The benefits are enormous. Your returns include a focused mind, replenished nervous system, vibrant health, positive attitude, decreased stress, improved relationships, better choice making, and heightened intuition.
1. Make a meditation schedule. Designate your meditation time as an important. Show up for your appointment as planned. Set the date and time on the calendar. Preferably the same time each day.
2. Location, location, location. Choose a quiet place. Let distracting noises, which invariably, will arise become a part of your practice. I taught a meditation class for a year that was scheduled to commence at the exact time the ally dumpsters were emptied. Ooops. Schedule snafu. What to do? I simply included the garbage truck honks as meditation chimes prompting the class to go deeper inside. Life can be loud. It’s okay. Make the best of your situation.
3. Educate your household. Pro-actively inform your roommates and family members you will be meditating and ask for their support to leave you undisturbed.
4. Unplug. Take a break from the world of electronics. This means no cell phones, pagers, texting, emailing, twitting, or facebook messaging while meditating. If you forget to unplug before meditation and one of the above sounds, during practice, simply stick to the practice. Make a habit of responding after your meditation appointment has ended.
5. Dress for the occasion. Choose your meditation garb. Assigning and wearing the same clothing for practice helps to inform your subconscious it’s time to relax. I suggest wearing comfortable and loose fitting clothing. Wearing the same clothing creates a Pavlovian type response. Ring the bell the dog salivates. Put on the comfy white shirt and relaxed white pants the body relaxes instantaneously.
6. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Repetition is key. Show up regularly and often. Start with 3 to 4 days a week building to 5 to 6 days a week. Consistency builds spiritual muscles. Length of meditation is based on style of meditation you choose. Starting with something manageable, such as a 20 minute practice, which you can fit in your schedule is recommended. Build into longer meditations. If you are attending a meditation group you will follow the length they suggest.
7. Comfort is king. Be sure to choose a comfortable seat. Sit in a chair, on the ground, up against a wall and if necessary you can even lay on your back. But, first try the seated versions for meditation. Most important is keeping your spine straight from top to bottom.
8. Thinking during meditation is normal. All your life you have been taught to use your mind. It is unrealistic to think your mind will suddenly stop thinking when you sit to meditate.In all likelihood, when beginning, the thoughts in your head will amplify or it will feel like they do. This is normal. Often, we are multi-tasking or so busy we don’t realize the volume of our thoughts until we sit still. The aim in meditation is to allow thoughts to pass, like clouds in the sky, and focus your awareness into the structured meditation practice. Ultimately thoughts will become like soft background music you barely notice.
9. Practice doesn’t make you perfect. Some days are easier than others. Meditation will not make your rich, strong and beautiful. In fact, it may make you more aware of all the ways you are not rich, strong and beautiful. It may bring out more of your insecurities, neuroses and emotional challenges. This is healthy. Meditation offers the vehicle to fall in love with yourself as you are. You are perfectly imperfect. It’s by design.
10. Discover the best meditation style for you. If you haven’t done so already, take the time to explore different meditation styles until you find the one that best matches you. Every individual has a style of meditation that works best for him or her. Some students, at the end of my meditation class, were revitalized and refreshed while others were frustrated and confused. The feeling of a “lack of success” with meditation wasn’t about the students “ability” to meditate. Rather the meditation technique was not the right match, resulting in frustration.
Stay tuned for more meditation articles where I will discuss a variety of meditation styles you can choose from.
As well, feel free to comment and share your responses or questions. I look forward to hearing from you.