Meditation- Could It Be Your Missing Link To Health & Happiness?
One of most important habits you can form is the habit of meditation. Hands down, bar none, doing meditation will help you reach deep within your inner self and help you develop a calmness within, mental strength, coping skills, and healthful habits.
Meditation, when done regularly, can and will help you form all other good habits. It will help you to become more focused, less worried about discomfort, and more appreciative and attentive to everything in your life. We are all far from perfect, but meditation will greatly help you correct many of your personal deficiencies. Probably most importantly, it will help you understand your own mind. In other words, what makes you tick.
Before I started meditating, I never thought about what was going on inside my head — it would just happen, and I would follow its commands like an automaton. These days, all of that still happens, but more and more, I am aware of what’s going on. I can make a choice about whether to follow the commands. I understand myself better (not completely, but better), and that has given me increased flexibility and freedom.
As a result of my own experience, I highly recommend meditation. And while I’m not saying it’s easy, you can start small and get better and better as you practice. Don’t expect to be good at first — that’s why it’s called “practice”! In fact, when I first tried meditation, I stopped after a few minutes thinking it was silly and a waste of time. Don’t do that! Give it a chance!
The tips listed below aren’t aimed at helping you to become an expert … they should help you get started and keep going. You don’t have to implement them all at once — try a few, come back to this article, try one or two more. With time and patience, you may just find that meditation was the missing link to your own personal and spiritual growth.
𝟭. 𝗦𝗶𝘁 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗷𝘂𝘀𝘁 𝘁𝘄𝗼 𝗺𝗶𝗻𝘂𝘁𝗲𝘀. This will seem ridiculously easy, but just meditate for two minutes. That’s perfect. Start with just two minutes a day for a week. If that goes well, increase by another two minutes and do that for a week. If all goes well, by increasing just a little at a time, you’ll be meditating for 10 minutes a day in the 2nd month, which is amazing! But start small first.
𝟮. 𝗗𝗼 𝗶𝘁 𝗳𝗶𝗿𝘀𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗲𝗮𝗰𝗵 𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴. It’s easy to say, “I’ll meditate every day,” but then forget to do it. Instead, set a reminder on your phone for every morning when you get up, or put a note that says “meditate” somewhere where you’ll see it.
𝟯. 𝗗𝗼𝗻’𝘁 𝗴𝗲𝘁 𝗰𝗮𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝘂𝗽 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗵𝗼𝘄 — 𝗷𝘂𝘀𝘁 𝗱𝗼. Most people worry about where to sit, how to sit, what cushion to use … this is all nice, but it’s not that important to get started. Start just by sitting on a chair, or on your couch. Or on your bed. If you’re comfortable on the ground, sit cross-legged. It’s just for two minutes at first anyway, so just sit. Later you can worry about optimizing it so you’ll be comfortable for longer, but in the beginning it doesn’t matter much, just sit somewhere quiet and comfortable.
𝟰. 𝗖𝗵𝗲𝗰𝗸 𝗶𝗻 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗵𝗼𝘄 𝘆𝗼𝘂’𝗿𝗲 𝗳𝗲𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴. As you first settle into your meditation session, simply check to see how you’re feeling. How does your body feel? What is the quality of your mind? Busy? Tired? Anxious? See whatever feelings you’re bringing to this meditation session as completely OK.
𝟱. 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗻𝘁 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗯𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗵𝘀. Now that you’re settled in, turn your attention to your breath. Just place the attention on your breath as it comes in, and follow it through your nose all the way down to your lungs. Try counting “one” as you take in the first breath, then “two” as you breathe out. Repeat this to the count of 10, then start again at one.
𝟲. 𝗖𝗼𝗺𝗲 𝗯𝗮𝗰𝗸 𝘄𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘄𝗮𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿. Your mind will wander. This is an almost absolute certainty. There’s no problem with that. When you notice your mind wandering, smile, and simply gently return to your breath. Count “one” again, and start over. You might feel a little frustration, but it’s perfectly OK to not stay focused, we all do it. This is the practice, and you won’t be good at it for a little while.
𝟳. 𝗗𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹𝗼𝗽 𝗮 𝗹𝗼𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝘁𝘁𝗶𝘁𝘂𝗱𝗲. When you notice thoughts and feelings arising during meditation, as they will, look at them with a friendly attitude. See them as friends, not intruders or enemies. They are a part of you, though not all of you. Be friendly and not harsh.
𝟴. 𝗗𝗼𝗻’𝘁 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗿𝘆 𝘁𝗼𝗼 𝗺𝘂𝗰𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘆𝗼𝘂’𝗿𝗲 𝗱𝗼𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝘁 𝘄𝗿𝗼𝗻𝗴. You will worry you’re doing it wrong. That’s OK, we all do. You’re not doing it wrong. There’s no perfect way to do it, just be happy you’re doing it.
𝟵. 𝗗𝗼𝗻’𝘁 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗿𝘆 𝗮𝗯𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗰𝗹𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗱. Lots of people think meditation is about clearing your mind, or stopping all thoughts. It’s not. This can sometimes happen, but it’s not the “goal” of meditation. If you have thoughts, that’s normal. We all do. Our brains are thought factories, and we can’t just shut them down. Instead, just try to practice focusing your attention, and practice some more when your mind wanders.
𝟭𝟬. 𝗦𝘁𝗮𝘆 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝗮𝗿𝗶𝘀𝗲𝘀. When thoughts or feelings arise, and they will, you might try staying with them awhile. Yes, I know I said to return to the breath, but after you practice that for a week, you might also try staying with a thought or feeling that arises. We tend to want to avoid feelings like frustration, anger, anxiety … but an amazingly useful meditation practice is to stay with the feeling for awhile. Just stay, and be curious.
𝟭𝟭. 𝗚𝗲𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗸𝗻𝗼𝘄 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗳. This practice isn’t just about focusing your attention, it’s about learning how your mind works. What’s going on inside there? It’s murky, but by watching your mind wander, get frustrated, avoid difficult feelings … you can start to understand yourself.
𝟭𝟮. 𝗕𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗻𝗱𝘀 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗳. As you get to know yourself, do it with a friendly attitude instead of one of criticism. You’re getting to know a friend. Smile and give yourself love.
𝟭𝟯. 𝗗𝗼 𝗮 𝗯𝗼𝗱𝘆 𝘀𝗰𝗮𝗻. Another thing you can do, once you become a little better at following your breath, is focus your attention on one body part at a time. Start at the soles of your feet — how do those feel? Slowly move to your toes, the tops of your feet, your ankles, all the way to the top of your head.
𝟭𝟰. 𝗡𝗼𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗹𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁, 𝘀𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗱𝘀, 𝗲𝗻𝗲𝗿𝗴𝘆. Another place to put your attention, again, after you’ve practice with your breath for at least a week, is the light all around you. Just keep your eyes on one spot, and notice the light in the room you’re in. Another day, just focus on noticing sounds. Another day, try to notice the energy in the room all around you (including light and sounds).
𝟭𝟱. 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗺𝗶𝘁 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗳. Don’t just say, “Sure, I’ll try this for a couple days.” Really commit yourself to this. In your mind, be locked in, for at least a month.
𝟭𝟲. 𝗬𝗼𝘂 𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝗱𝗼 𝗶𝘁 𝗮𝗻𝘆𝘄𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲. If you’re traveling or something comes up in the morning, you can do meditation in your office. In the park. During your commute. As you walk somewhere. Sitting meditation is the best place to start, but in truth, you’re practicing for this kind of mindfulness in your entire life.
𝟭𝟳. 𝗙𝗼𝗹𝗹𝗼𝘄 𝗴𝘂𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗱 𝗺𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻. If it helps, you can try following guided meditations to start with. I have a friend that is using Tara Brach’s guided meditations, and she finds them very helpful.
𝟭𝟴. 𝗖𝗵𝗲𝗰𝗸 𝗶𝗻 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗳𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗻𝗱𝘀. While I like meditating alone, you can do it with your spouse or child or a friend. Or just make a commitment with a friend to check in every morning after meditation. It might help you stick with it for longer.
𝟭𝟵. 𝗙𝗶𝗻𝗱 𝗮 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗺𝘂𝗻𝗶𝘁𝘆. Even better, find a community of people who are meditating and join them. This might be a Zen or Tibetan community near you (for example), where you go and meditate with them. Or find an online group and check in with them and ask questions, get support, encourage others. The CALM app is also a very helpful meditation resource.
𝟮𝟬. 𝗦𝗺𝗶𝗹𝗲 𝘄𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝘆𝗼𝘂’𝗿𝗲 𝗱𝗼𝗻𝗲. When you’re finished with your two minutes, smile. Be grateful that you had this time to yourself, that you stuck with your commitment, that you showed yourself that you’re trustworthy, where you took the time to get to know yourself and make friends with yourself.
That’s an amazing two minutes of your life. Meditation isn’t always easy or even peaceful. But it has truly amazing benefits, and you can start today, and continue for the rest of your life.
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