I’ve had to develop tricks through the years to get myself to meditate.
I can practice yoga with the best of them for hours a day, but I haven’t yet managed to override the part of my brain that is certain that sending that package out, or calling back that friend, or devoting half an hour to edutainment take precedence over sitting still and letting the mind settle into a blissful state of being.
While you’re on your way to letting meditation be a recurring guest star in the sitcom of your life, let me share my tricks with you.
5. Go somewhere for it. Do it with others. Not only is there an inherent accountability factor, but if you have a time, a place and a routine, you have successfully tricked your mind into thinking, “Hey! One more thing to do!” Mind likes doing. Mind does not like being. Give mind doing till it likes being. Repeat.
4. Take a bunch of five-minute meditations a day. No time for one more thing in your life, you say? I bet there are plenty of spare moments to connect with the peace inside if you pay attention. You can sit still for five minutes at the end of the day, with the lights turned out. You can focus on your breath and the sensations in your body when you’re standing in line anywhere or waiting for a green light. You can practice alternate-nostril breathing while on the bus. You can walk down the street a little slower, savoring each step. Heck, you can even run down the street in an non-frantic way with a meditative awareness on your body movement. “Peace is in pieces” as a friend and fellow meditator says. Find the peace in the pieces of your day.
3. Set it up so you enjoy it. I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve heard or seen people sit in lotus position, or kneel, or any other stance that not in a million years would feel comfortable to them. Newsflash: Lotus can be a fantastically comfortable position to sit in… if it’s actually comfortable for you! If it isn’t, why torture your body? No need to make meditation look a specific way, and no need to add another discouraging factor to meditating regularly. Sit down in your favorite chair! Or lie down! (But keep your body in a spread-eagle position or arms above your shoulders on the floor so you don’t fall asleep.) Use pillows! Use a Lazy-Boy recliner if you must! The point is, you want to encourage your coming back to your practice by always being comfortable, always making it the most enjoyable experience possible. Now click over here for my line of Lazy-Boy Meditation Recliners. No, just kidding.
2. Use something to make it easier. Yes, there are the techniques that have you gazing at a candle, or repeating a certain mantram — but the possibilities don’t end there. Walk much slower than usual at the nearest park and shift from thinking into perceiving. Take a hot bath and close your eyes and focus on the sensations of relaxation. Or use music: no-words, slow, no melodic structure. Tibetan-Bell type music is the best, because it focuses your attention but, in the absence of melodic structure, doesn’t engage your thinking mind. Be in a comfortable body position, put on headphones, follow your breath, perceive the sound, and you’re well on your way to regular meditation. Below are my preferred CDs. (Images are clickable.)
1. Teach it. Ha! The oldest trick in the book: those who teach it, need it the most! You lead the group and it’ll guarantee you’ll show up and do it. “But I must know something about meditation to teach it,” I hear you say. Not really. How much more is there to it other than “Now we are still and let thoughts pass like clouds in the sky and come back to the slow, relaxed breath over and over again?”
Okay, now let me go meditate before I get caught up in anything else.