If someone said it only took 10-20 minutes per day to improve everything from memory to the functionality of your immune system and you could do it for free, most people would be skeptical about the claim. Yet that’s exactly what meditation can provide.
This ancient spiritual practice is seeing a resurgence across multiple sectors of society because of the many benefits it can provide. It’s not a religion. It’s simply a new way of looking at the world, at yourself, and finding ways to manage life better.
Many may be trying meditation, but not everyone is succeeding at it. I’ve been there myself. In the early days of my practice, back when double cheeseburgers were my main dinner priority, I couldn’t even sit still for 5 minutes. Try to focus my thoughts? Please. The moment my mind didn’t have to deal with all the issues the world was throwing at it became the moment that random thoughts began flooding my head.
I wonder who is going to get promoted next week.
What will my life be like next month? Next year? In 10 years?
Is that the smell of a double cheeseburger in the air?
The struggles are very real and dismissing them does no one any good. When the world says it is impossible to meditate, I offer you these three ideas to help you fight back.
#1. Redefine What Success Means
Like many people these days, I expected instant success. If I decided to start meditation, then I’d be a master at it instantly. Except it didn’t happen that way. I wanted something specific from meditation and it offered me something else, so I thought I was a failure.
I’ve spoken to many people who have had a similar experience. Clarity can happen during meditation – sure it can. In the early days, what is more likely to happen is a series of thought observations and solitude. There’s nothing wrong with that.
As long as you are working toward moments of clarity, you are creating a successful meditation time. See your thoughts. See your feelings. Begin to let them come and go.
#2. Redefine Your Atmosphere
I used to go all-out in creating a meditation atmosphere for myself. There was incense burning, fancy yoga outfits being worn, and let’s not forget about the mantras. Then there was the perfect lotus position, the ultra-quiet surroundings, and a memory foam cushion for maximum sitting comfort.
And it didn’t work.
There are many meditation techniques out there, but all of them follow 3 basics: be comfortable, be observational, and be accepting.
You can meditate at the beach. You can meditate at the library. You can park your car in a rest area and meditate in the parking spot. As long as you are willing to accept the experience, avoid judging how your experiences are different than others, and just focus your mind toward the end goal, you’ll find that many places offer the right atmosphere for meditation.
With or without the incense.
#3. Redefine the Commitment
I couldn’t meditate for 10 minutes when I first started my efforts at meditation. It made me feel like a failure when I couldn’t make it that long because everyone was telling me that I need to achieve that time goal. Only when I discovered the build-up process did my meditation times begin to improve.
Let’s say this is your first week meditating. Instead of 10-20 minutes, try shooting for 3-5 minutes. If you can go longer – great. If not, lower it down to two minutes. Sit quietly and work on focusing your mind throughout that time.
Then, as you become more comfortable with meditation, start increasing how much time you can meditate. This eliminates the guilt and regret that come from not making the time goals of experts and helps you begin to experience the benefits meditation can provide.
These are my methods to help start the meditation process. What are some of yours? I’d love to hear about your approach to meditating and what has worked for you.