Inspired by Phillip Goldberg’s fine article Why Yogi’s Don’t Meditate.
Out of all the practices I’ve done in my yogic life, daily meditation has had the most profound benefit…
Meditation has given me the ability to witness my Self in action on a day-to-day basis, such that awareness permeates my every action.
I catch myself playing out an outdated pattern. I notice when I’m getting triggered emotionally by people around me, I see when I’m being mirrored. All of this makes life so much easier to navigate as I’m consciously choosing response instead of reaction—most of the time. I’m not perfect. Although, my life is pretty damn perfect. And it’s not because I’ve got the perfect job and the perfect partner and the perfect salary…
Nope, my life is perfect because it just is… and that’s kinda hard to grasp until you meditate.
Now, I get why you might not meditate:
Meditation is too hard, it’s boring, it’s impossible to stop your thoughts, you don’t know how, you’re too busy, you don’t see the point, yada yada yada.
But you know what? All those reasons? They’re just obstacles. And they’re totally made up.
If you really wanted to meditate, you would. You just don’t want to, because… it’s too hard, boring…
See the circuit we get on?
I’m here to help you break the circuit.
Now I’m no meditation teacher. Never trained in it. Only know what I know from my own practice. I’m not an expert in any of the myriad of ways in which to meditate.
What I am an expert in is how to sit your arse down already and just do it.
So, here’s some myth-busting for a start that will help you frame the experience of meditation to ensure success, ‘cos that’s key. No sabotaging yourself by pretending that meditation means a still, clear mind—maybe in a decade or five.
Meditation is simply the act of watching whatever thoughts arise, not banishing said thoughts from your mind. Meditation is welcoming whatever comes into your field of awareness—not pushing it away as wrong. Meditation is the practice of making the shift from the do-er to the be-er. You watch what goes on, rather then immersing yourself in the goings-on.
As I mentioned, there are a myriad of ways to meditate, and these are all tools—nothing more, nothing less. The true meditator eventually gets to a place where he or she doesn’t need any of these tools anymore. Indeed, the master meditator doesn’t even need to sit down and practice meditation anymore because meditating becomes a way of life.
It’s simply the act of watching yourself in action.
Us novice meditators? We need to sit our arses down on the cushion every single day so we can practice this art.
Here’s how to do it:
First, I’m going to make an assumption that you have some type of practice already. And I’m even going to assume that this practice takes place at home—not just in class—and happens regularly. If I’m wrong, you’re just going to have to carve five minutes out of your day to meditate. Otherwise…
I would suggest making a commitment to yourself that at the end of whatever practice you’re already doing, you will take five minutes—yes just five minutes—to sit and meditate.
That’s step number one: commit to a five-minute regular practice. I’d push for daily, but start where you’re at and build on that.
Next step: frame up your experience of meditation. Give yourself permission to totally suck. Give yourself permission to have the busiest most frantic mind ever. Give yourself permission to hate those five minutes with every cell in your body. That’s step number two.
Then sit your arse down already.
Start with getting comfortable in your seat—whatever that means to you. Use a chair if you have to. Put a cushion under your arse. Once you’re comfortable, commit in your mind to not move at all for the next five minutes. Even if you get pins and needles. Even if your foot goes numb. Even if you get an unbearable itch under your right butt cheek. Do not move.
You got it, that was step three.
Step number four: while you’re not moving, fix your eyes to a still point. If they’re closed, gaze up at your eyebrow center. If they’re open, gaze at your nose. Do not move your eyes.
And when you do, because you will, smile knowingly at yourself for noticing and bring your eyes back to the still point again.
And again. And again.
While you’re not moving and you’re fixing your eyes on one point, you’re also going to count your breath—step five.
Inhale one. Exhale one. Inhale two. Exhale two. Inhale three. Exhale three… man I’m hungry I wonder what I should have for… doh!
Inhale one. Exhale one. Inhale two. Exhale two… that guy was so checking me out on the subway yesterday… I wonder if he always rides the… doh!
Inhale one. Exhale one…
If you eventually make it to inhale 10, exhale 10 in one unbroken chunk of breath watching. Start the climb back down.
When your timer goes ding-a-ling-a-ling, congratulate yourself on five minutes of meditation. Take a moment to notice how you feel and what your mind is doing. This is also a step six. It’s a sly way to spill your meditative state of being out of your practice and into your life.
And that’s it. That’s how I started meditating. I sat down in a comfortable position. I set a timer. I didn’t move for that length of time. I gazed at a fixed point. I counted my breath. I noticed how I felt afterward.
And really enjoyable.
True, you’ll find just naturally that once you get that daily habit of sitting in five minutes of meditation, you’ll want to sit for longer. And longer. And one day, you’ll discover yourself sitting for an hour in meditation because it’s the dopest thing you could think of doing with your afternoon.