How to Meditate Every Damn Day. (No, seriously!) ~ Alexa Nehter

Via Alexa Nehter on Nov 21, 2013

meditate

Have you ever tried to start a daily meditation practice…and failed?

Perhaps you enthusiastically managed to keep it up for a week—even two—before life got in the way and your shiny new practice got left behind?

Yep, me too. I used to meditate for two hours every single day (a casual habit fueled by several intense meditation retreats). But in recent months, the prospect of runs on the beach at dawn, warm snuggles with my hubby or high-energy surfing expeditions have seemed so much more appealing. Before I knew it, these fun-tivities had replaced my oh-so-sacred sitting practice.

I began to suffer for this lapse. I felt my mindfulness leaking out of me, and I became airy, unfocused and increasingly indecisive. I finally realized that I need to meditate in the same way that I need to brush my teeth: with non-negotiable regularity.

Armed with my new insight, I intentionally got back into a regular rhythm. Today, my meditations are usually 15 to 45 minutes long, every single day. To some, this might seem overly time consuming; to me, it’s time well spent. Instead of diving into DVD marathons or social media sessions, I choose to dive deep into soul-based stillness. And much like my teeth, my spirit feels now consistently more shiny and minty-fresh.

When you’re trying to make meditation a daily habit, it can start feeling like just another item to cross off your to-do list, or yet another thing that you’re just not good at. But this sort of thinking doesn’t serve you, and just makes it harder to practice. Here is a short plan to help you get into the right mind-space for welcoming serenity into your life.

Before you begin to meditate, understand that:

Resistance will arise.

You don’t want to do it, and you’ve got a million excellent reasons why: I’m too busy, too tired, too stressed. Oftentimes, the notions of consistency and discipline evoke our rebellious inner teenager, who does not want to do what she’s told and who’ll throw a prize-winning tantrum to let us know. This is usually the point where our well-intentioned meditation efforts end.

You are free to choose.

Instead of following these unhelpful thought patterns, you can choose to think differently. See yourself as being independent and free in your choice to be a meditator. Convince yourself that you don’t have to meditate. Nobody is forcing you. In fact, you want to. Do you? It’s your choice.

You cannot fail.

It’s easy to feel disheartened when endless thoughts continue to arise during your sessions, despite your best efforts. You can start to feel like a failure, like there’s just no point. But when you look closely at meditation, you see it’s not the practice of learning how to stay present. It’s really the practice of how to return to the present. You can’t fail! If you get caught in a thought, no worries—that happens. Catching this moment with your awareness is the practice. Can you already smell the roses?

You will get instant gratification, you just have to know how to look for it.

When your mind wanders off a hundred times, you have a hundred opportunities to practice mindfully returning your attention to the present moment. Isn’t that absolutely wonderful?!

Now let’s get zen! Find a quiet place to sit and try this:

Meditation in 5 steps:

1. Set a timer for two minutes. Sit comfortably upright (on a cushion, a chair or leaning against a wall).

2. Close your eyes.

3. Bring your focus to your breath. Observe how it enters your nose and exits your nose. Let your mind gently rest on the breath. That’s all you need to do.

4. Now, your mind will naturally begin to roam. Imagine your mind like a child that has just started walking and wants to wander off all the time. Be unconditionally loving, patient and encouraging. Whenever you catch the mind wandering, simply bring your focus back to the present moment and observe your breath. And repeat. (And repeat again.)

5. When your time is up, thank yourself for practicing meditation. Silently say to yourself, “thank you”. This little gesture will build motivation and goodwill for your next sessions.

Click here for a classic Buddhist meditation instruction.

Do little, reap plenty.

Begin with only one or two short practices a day. A good time to meditate is just after getting up in the morning, when your mind is naturally calm. At this time of day, it’s also easier to avoid an inner debate as to whether or not you should sit down and practice, and instead, just do it! I usually get up, make myself a cup of apple cider vinegar or tea, sit down and do it.

Bonus tip for busy people.

Tiny windows for quiet contemplation can be found everywhere throughout the day. For example: stay a minute longer on the toilet or in your car before getting out, and use this time to meditate.

By combining a little discipline with a lot of self-compassion, your meditation practice will grow and flourish. Those few minutes spent in solitude can grow into some of the most rewarding moments of your day. Getting serious about serenity is oh-so-worth it!

 Like elephant meditation on Facebook.

 

Editor: Dana Gornall

About Alexa Nehter

Love and connection. Yoga and surfing. Alexa Nehter’s mission is to give back to the world, what yoga, her tribes and nature are gifting to her. As a semi retired world traveller, she now teaches internationally for the love of sharing the yogic aloha spirit and for living. She sees herself as the translator of the multidimensional and not always easy to digest lingua yoga. By day, you can find her rocking the yoga studios and putting together workshops, retreats and fundraising events. By night, she is likely found submerged behind her books, chatting with the rest of the world, polishing her yogipreneur skills, writing or snuggling her hunk of a husband. Find her exploring ocean swells, barefoot beach running or curled up on her yoga mat or connect with Alexa on Facebook or at her website.

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20 Responses to “How to Meditate Every Damn Day. (No, seriously!) ~ Alexa Nehter”

  1. What beautiful insights! I love the idea that I cannot fail at meditation. That's definitely a good thing to keep in mind as I sit on my mat each day! :)

  2. watty watt says:

    One of the most insperational persons i have ever met .I am so proud to call alexa and will my dear friends ,thanky for sharing .

  3. Sandra says:

    Awesome timing for this post Alex! After the year I’ve had I so need get back into a daily practice. Love the “you are free to choose” tip. Will keep that in mind for days when I’m berating myself!

  4. Marcy says:

    Soooo helpful! The free to choose tip really speaks to me

  5. Alexa Nehter says:

    Fantastic Marcy! Thats great to hear! Happy meditating.. if you are going to ;)

  6. Renee says:

    Thank you so much for this reminder that the practice is returning to the present, rather than staying present !

  7. Gary says:

    So timely for me. Thank you. I try to view the random thoughts as birds flying overhead . I watch them go by, but don't let them nest.

    Gary

  8. Gary says:

    So timely for me. Thank you. I try to view the random thoughts as birds flying overhead . I watch them go by

  9. Susan says:

    Great post Alexa! I struggle with this constantly.

    I love the "you are free to choose" point. I was just discussing that with someone else this morning! How we often make the very thing that we want to accomplish an enemy. It starts to feel like a job or a chore and all hope of making it habitual flies out the window. I love that by consciously making it a choice you take back your power. Thanks for that!

  10. Jenny says:

    LOVE this!!! " Instead of diving into DVD marathons or social media sessions, I choose to dive deep into soul-based stillness" …. soul based stillness truly resonates and I just love this article. It's so true — we tend to forget. We dive deep for a few days, weeks, months maybe even years and then something happens. Just like our yoga practice, this is a practice we need to keep up with and continue to evaluate! Thank you for sharing… jai ma!

    • Alexa Nehter says:

      Thank you for your nice reply Jenny! Yes it is about getting back.. mediation, healthy eating, being kind to others or how we talk to ourselves.. it is all practice! xx

  11. Ashley Evans says:

    And to know that this is written in your second language makes it even more inspirational. You, mum and eve are my peaceful and balanced living motivators! So proud of your commitment, you are flourishing gorgeous! X

  12. Cathy says:

    I absolutely love your article! Meditation to me is just like you said, as natural as brushing my teeth, and at times just as unappealing. Wonderful tips too! I usually spend at least 30 minutes in meditation, but as with life, it does ebb and flow, and I can see the results in my life accordingly. When life gets super busy I sometimes need to break it down into multiple 5 minute bouts throughout the day, but for me, the key is in consistency. Meditation, in my opinion, is a necessity that often gets overlooked!

    • Alexa Nehter says:

      Thank you Cathy! Thats it! Why not flowing with what life offers you instead of beating yourself up of 'not doing it right'? With a vision of how we, our life looks and feels like, with loads of self compassion and acceptance with what currently is, we never will be going adrift!

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