Learning to Meditate

It’s very easy to read a book, take a workshop or listen to a recording to learn how to meditate.
The concept is straight forward. Sit still, close your eyes and let your thoughts disappear until you
reach peaceful relaxation. Understanding how to meditate is much different than practicing it. When
you actually try to meditate it is significantly different. You sit, you may begin to twitch or move
because your back hurts but you are definitively not still. You have to resist the temptation to open your
eyes and check the time. An endless barrage of insignificant thoughts flows through your mind with an
anxious rhythm.

You need to build a meditation practice and then the peace will come. Start by building the
habit, creating a habit of meditation. Choose a place that you can sit quietly, uninterrupted by family,
the phone and daily distractions. Build positive thoughts towards your meditation by making it special
in some way. You could sit on a fancy cushion, light a scented candle, cover your shoulders with a
warm blanket or read an inspiring quote. Begin practicing your meditation routine every single day
even if it’s for a short time. In the beginning you are building the habit of meditation. I can’t stress this
enough, you might begin by setting a timer for only 2 to 5 min. Try not to be attached to the outcome.

When building practice it’s quantity not quality that’s important. At first you will notice many, many,
many thoughts. Try not to force or push the thoughts out. When you have a thought acknowledge it,
saying to yourself, “I am thinking this” or “I am feeling this”, then allow yourself to drift back to your
meditation. Commit to this short meditation for many weeks and then slowly begin to increase the
amount of time.

When you try to meditate some days you will feel very relaxed and peaceful, other days it will
be uncomfortable and irritating. Have faith and keep practicing. Over time you will notice your body,
breath and mind begins to slow down. It can be helpful to have an object of meditation or something to
concentrate on. I recommend breath centered meditation. Listening to the sound of your own breath.
Breathe through the nose with the jaw and tongue relaxed until you hear a sea shell sound. When you
notice your mind wandering off you can gently draw your mind back by noticing the top of the inhale.

It can be helpful to keep track of your meditation in a journal or with an app. This will help you
feel successful when you noticed you have meditated several days in a row. If you notice you are
missing a lot of days try to see if there is a pattern. Are you missing weekend days or days when you
are on vacation? Are you too busy at that time of day? Is there something interfering with your
meditation habit? Try a different time, place or style until you find something that fits your lifestyle. It
can be helpful in the beginning to listen to a meditation tape or to relaxing music. You will still be
building the habit but your mind will have a more obvious object of meditation.

Tried everything and you still can’t sit still? Some people are not meant to sit still. I call them
“ants in your pants folks”. The point of meditation is to quiet the mind or to still the thoughts. This is
very relaxing for our brain and similar to rebooting a computer. If you can’t sit still try another
mediation method that allows you to relax your mind. This could be any activity where you don’t have
to make any decisions. Some examples could be walking, running, coloring, singing or what ever your
heart desires. One walking mediation that works wonders is matching your breath to your steps.
Counting four steps you inhale. Counting four steps you exhale.

Most importantly try not to stress or worry about your mediation practice. Try your best and
don’t feel guilty if you miss a day. This is practicing compassion towards your self. If none of these tips
help you build your own mediation practice turn to a professional or contact me for advice!

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