I know. You were hoping I’d start you off with something easier. By now everyone is aware that science has proven the myriad benefits of meditation, so if you’re not already a regular meditator chances are that you’ve tried it and thought, I can’t do this. The most common reasons people give for not doing it is “I don’t have time” and/or “I can’t shut my mind off.”
But it’s my very first tip because it’s the single most important thing I’ve done to get happy and raise my vibration. It’s the alpha and omega of a high vibe life…even if you don’t do it every day. The deep sense of peace, awareness, mindfulness and equanimity will stay with you and carry over into your whole life and all that you do. It’s that powerful.
So let’s take those two excuses one at a time.
“I don’t have time.” My tai chi teacher likes to tell his students an old joke: “If you can’t find 20 minutes a day to meditate, then you need to do it for an hour.” His point is that it’s the busiest and most stressed-out people who need to do it the most! But seriously, ask yourself how many minutes a day you spend on Facebook or watching TV? (Not that there’s anything wrong with either one of those activities.) Can you shave off 5 or 10 minutes to give meditation a try? Even 5 minutes a day will have a benefit. Gradually work up to 10, then 15, then 20, or even longer. Once you get into the habit, your meditation time will be sacred and you’ll look forward to it.
“I can’t shut my mind off.” Good news! You don’t have to. That’s not the goal of meditation. Minds will do what they do, which is generate thoughts. In meditation you simply observe those thoughts come and go without judgment. You gradually become aware that the real you, the deep down observer of the thoughts, is separate from the mind. You begin to identify more and more with the deep down you, and less with the ceaseless activity of the (often silly and petty) mind. In your daily life, you begin to act and respond to people and events from the deep down you, rather than react from the surface mind.
You become grounded in an unshakeable sense of peace.
Sounds pretty good, right??
So how do you do it? There are many different types of meditation but for our purposes let’s just keep it simple: watch your breath. Sit comfortably (no, it doesn’t have to be on the floor in the lotus position), close your eyes (or not), and breathe. At first you’ll be uncomfortably aware of your breathing, or it will seem like you’re somehow forcing it…just push through this part and settle into a normal breathing rhythm. If your toe itches, scratch it; if your butt hurts, shift it; if your foot falls asleep, move it.
While you’re breathing and doing all this adjusting, you’ll notice your mind just chattering away with thoughts. You might feel frustrated, but don’t worry–it’s totally normal. Everybody’s mind just chatters away with thoughts. Whenever you find yourself caught up in thinking, just gently and without judgment bring your focus back to your breath. Notice how the air is cooler on the inhale and warmer on the exhale. Your mind will wander again, and you will bring your focus back to your breath again. Lather, rinse and repeat for as long as you’re able. Tomorrow, do it again.
You may eventually decide to enhance your meditation by experimenting with some other styles and techniques. You can find guided meditations online where someone gently talks you through visualizations. You can try using a mantra, which is a chant that you repeat over and over, either out loud or in your mind. My own meditation is mantra-based, and I use a set of mala beads to help me keep track of the repetitions. I have found that one circuit around the beads is about 20 minutes.
How about you, dear reader? Do you meditate? If not, give it a try and let me know how it goes in the comments! Make sure and come back tomorrow for Day 3.