Meditation is supposed to be a simple, calming process. The only problem is that it tends to be frustrating and complicated for many, especially in the first days of starting a regular meditation routine. I’ve found that some of those frustrations may not go away for quite some time, even when fully committed to the process. It makes me wonder about the validity of all those meditation blogs out there.
The problems caused by humanity can also be fixed by humanity, so let’s get that process started today. Here is some of the stuff about meditation that I wish had been discussed with me when I first became interested in this ancient practice.
#1. Meditation isn’t always relaxing. This was especially true for me in the first days. I wasn’t expecting to find a personal nirvana, but I was hoping to have my anxieties and stress melt away from my body. I could sit there for 30 minutes, however, and think more about why my butt was falling asleep than finding any clarity. So if you’re struggling through a meditation session, my best advice is this: don’t give up. It’s just part of the journey.
#2. Clarity is different than a blank mind. How many times have you heard that meditation is supposed create a “blank mind?” I would sit for minutes trying to suppress random thoughts that would come my way while meditating. Some of the thoughts were about things I hadn’t thought about in decades. The fact is that you’re never going to have an empty chalkboard up there in your head. Thoughts happen. It’s more important to observe those thoughts than try to suppress them. Over time, you may find that the time between thoughts expands and it is in those moments that clarity can be found.
#3. There doesn’t need to be a specific meditation position. Whenever you see meditation posts online, you see someone in the lotus position. That made me think that I had to do the lotus position as well. Yeah – it didn’t work so well. It’s just not comfortable for me thanks to an old sports injury. The truth is that you can be in virtually any position or location and achieve a good meditation session. You can even meditate with your eyes open if you want. I know of folks who meditate in the shower, while lying in bed, or while hiding in a closet at work. Find your spot, find your comfort zone, and meditation will follow.
#4. You don’t always need to meditate for 30+ minutes. Now I will say this: there is a definite improvement in my overall day when I can meditate for 30-45 minutes. That doesn’t mean every meditation opportunity must be that lengthy. I’ve found that meditation times tend to be accumulative in nature. This means if you meditate 6 times during the day for 5 minutes, then you achieve similar benefits as someone meditating once for 30 minutes. It’s more important to put in whatever time you can instead of demanding a specific amount of time out of your schedule.
#5. Meditation works better when it’s a habit. The struggle is in making it a habit in the first place. I know when I skip a day, it becomes easier to skip another day. Not every meditation opportunity is going to feel awesome, which can make it even more tempting to stop, but I would encourage you to keep going. Daily meditation creates a routine that eventually you’ll look forward to enjoying.
I think we don’t talk about these things a lot because we want to present the good side of meditation to everyone. We want to show everyone how perfect meditation can be. Yet there is also beauty in imperfection, which is why I think we should discuss this issues more often.
What has been your greatest challenge to establishing a daily meditation routine? I’d appreciate hearing your stories and be able to learn from your personal experiences so together we can keep improving with each opportunity.