Congratulations superhero! What a great idea! I’m so excited to be able to help you discover the magic of meditation.
First of all I have to tell you a secret: I don’t like to meditate. It’s hard for me. Meditation confronts me with my impatience, my restless nature and my volatile mind (all personality traits that I usually try to hide). Still, I meditate. Every day.
It’s not something I get very excited about. It’s something I do. Because I know it does me good. And because it’s good for me, it’s good for the people around me.
I’m sorry. I know that I would have motivated you more to listen than to meditate brings me to a wonderful state of enlightenment, than when I wake up I can’t wait to sit on my meditation pillow. But I don’t. And it’s very likely the same thing will happen to you.
Because in essence to meditate is to work – or rather: it is to train. Exercise for your mind. A new habit that you will add to your daily routine, like brushing your teeth or walking your dog. Something that in itself is not super exciting, but in the long run its benefits will be worth it.
HOW TO START?
In this immensity of different meditation techniques it is very difficult to know which one to start with. The good news: it doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter if you start by using a technique where you focus on observing your breathing or another technique that incorporates the repetition of small sentences (also known as mantras); it doesn’t matter if you use guided meditations or decide to observe your thoughts without judging them (the “mindfulness” meditation).
The essence of all techniques is to reinforce introspection, cultivate (self-)awareness, and refrain from judging.
So the first thing you have to do is decide which technique you will use. Find out how to use it. And stay with this technique for at least two weeks. Because if you meditate (or train your mind) every day, you will notice positive results within two weeks.
Hum! This expression on your face while reading tells me that you are still not satisfied. Well, I’ll tell you what technique I use. And why. And how you can also use this technique.
Are you ready to start? Already? All you need is a minute and a stopwatch.
- Schedule a minute on the stopwatch. Yes, one minute.
- Find a comfortable sitting position – in a chair, on a pillow, or on a yoga mat. Use all the accessories you need to feel comfortable (blankets, pillows, etc.). Lying down is not an option because the temptation to fall asleep is too high.
- Start by observing your feelings, emotions and state of mind without judging them. In other words: try to be present and notice all the thoughts and feelings that appear.
As an anchor to the present moment I advise you to observe your breathing; how gently it enters your body and gently exits, similar to the waves of the sea. Or you can also hear all the noises around you, notice them without naming them. As you try to be present, notice all the thoughts that appear.
And if you hear your mind saying “fiaca, this is so boring. I hope this minute is over soon,” just notice your thought. Don’t judge it. But when you notice the thought, let it go. Go back to the present moment. Observe your mind…
HOW DID IT GO?
Did you like it? Or did you get angry because you didn’t make it?
Don’t worry. Divagar is the essence of meditation. When you get lost in a thought and realize it, don’t get angry. Rejoice! Because in this fraction of a second in which you realized that you went off the beaten track, in this fraction of a second you were present.
And every time you gently turn your mind from reverie to the present moment you are training your mind to be present. Matthieu Richard, a Tibetan Buddhist monk compares meditation to marathon training – the first time you run, you probably won’t have much success. But in the long run, if you practice regularly, you’ll feel a significant improvement.
HOW TO MAKE MEDITATION A HABIT
You tried the one-minute meditation. And let me guess: you didn’t like it and you couldn’t concentrate for more than a few seconds either. How, for God’s sake, can you make this a habit?
- Start by defining a time of day when you will meditate. I advise you to do the first thing in the morning, because that way it is easier to create the habit (and the mind is still fresh as a lettuce). Or, as an alternative, you can also meditate before going to bed. It doesn’t matter what time of day you’ve chosen – stay with him. Don’t postpone meditation until later. Because all of a sudden you will fall sound asleep without having done so.
- Little by little your meditation time begins to increase. It starts with one minute a day, tomorrow you will do two, the day after three… I would try to stay between 5 and 20 minutes a day.
- NEVER NEVER NEVER skip a day of meditation. Because if you don’t do it one day, the next day will also give you faith to do it and the third day you will have already forgotten your intention. This point may seem quite rigorous, but for me it is essential. Never let your mind decide if it wants to meditate or not. Decide before you think. Just do it!
- A regular practice is more important than a prolonged practice. Stick to the 5-minute-a-day routine if you don’t find time for more on your busy day. Abstain from having unattainable goals and then give up because you can’t follow your ambitious regimen (yes, perfectionists, I’m talking to you!). Do it the other way around: from minor to major.
A word of caution: You will be tempted to give up. You will find excuses for not having to meditate. You will tell yourself that meditating is not your thing. You don’t have time for this. And, to top it all, you’ll start judging yourself for not being able to even invest 5 minutes a day in a healthy practice.
I know this will happen. Because I lived it. I started meditating many times, and I gave up many times. Until I decided to do it and that’s it.