Want the Perfect Life? Then Sit Your Arse Down and Meditate Already.

Via Kara-Leah Grant
on Mar 9, 2011
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AAEX001038 by jessebezz, on Flickr

Photo: jessebezz

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I catch myself playing out an outdated pattern.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.

Real simple.

Real powerful.

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.


About Kara-Leah Grant

Kara-Leah Grant is an internationally renowned retreat leader, yoga teacher and writer. Along with fellow Elephant Journal writer, Ben Ralston, she runs Heart of Tribe, pouring her love into growing a world-wide tribe of courageous, committed, and empowered individuals through leading retreats in New Zealand, Mexico and Sri Lanka. Kara-Leah is also the founder of New Zealand’s own awesome yoga website, The Yoga Lunchbox, and author of Forty Days of Yoga—Breaking down the barriers to a home yoga practice and The No-More-Excuses Guide to Yoga. A born & bred Kiwi who spent her twenties wandering the world and living large, Kara-Leah has spent time in Canada, the USA, France, England, Mexico, and a handful of other luscious locations. She now lives and travels internationally with her son, a ninja-in-training. You can find Kara-Leah on her website, or on Facebook.


15 Responses to “Want the Perfect Life? Then Sit Your Arse Down and Meditate Already.”

  1. Love it, Kara-Leah! This should help all those people who just need to take that first step.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

  2. Just posted to "Featured Today" on the new Elephant Yoga homepage.

  3. Gregg says:

    Right on, Kara-Leah!

  4. Megan Grant says:

    Wonderful article and fantastic tips! I'm up to 30minutes and am working towards that hour 🙂

  5. Sybil says:

    Love it!

    It’s weird…..I have the daily meditation & breathing routines in place but struggle to have a daily asana practice. I might try the 5 minute idea on that…..just sit my arse in pigeon for 5 minutes and build from there…..

  6. Ha! Love it Sybil… you might want to check out my article on doing just that for asana practice… http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/02/10-tips-am

  7. keishua says:

    I love it. I was really into mediating for 11 minutes a day and then fell off the wagon. I know I need to get back to it. This is a great reminder that a little goes a long way. Peace.

  8. NotSoSure says:

    I love this post. Clear and simple with a touch of tough love. It is obvious that this post was informed by personal experience. Too often the process of meditation is over-intellectualized. I found this post to contain "real" instruction for "real" people.

  9. Hey NotSoSure,

    Sweet – appreciate the feedback. it's nice to know what works and what doesn't work for someone.

  10. Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the new Elephant Yoga homepage.

  11. Lindsay Alderton says:

    I counted a total of five arse mentions in this posting and LOVED it. The word arse and the word meditation aren’t so frequently placed together in discourse on spiritual practice, and it’s lovely to read the bluntness with which you correctly anchor them as collaborators, and avoid the high-brow, to keep it real. Word up. Arse down.

  12. Joe Sparks says:

    Sitting and mediating is very cool thing to do, however for most folks if they sit 8 hours or more for work, sitting alone more is not a contradiction for them. They need to move and be around people, so Yoga frof some people makes more sense as a way to notice your truth. Also, sitting still for most westerners kicks up all the hours in school sitting and not being able to connect with others, having to conform. A person will need to work through a lot of that early stuff to be able to sit without beating yourself up.

  13. Joe Sparks says:

    A good way to clear your mind so you can sit, is to try taking turns listening to another person. It's an effective way to process your thoughts and feelings. Try listening 5 minutes a piece and switch. One person is the talker the other the listener. You will be amazed how powerful listening and being listened to is! Like meditation, listening it is not easy, because most everybody wants to be listened to when they are not preoccupied with work, so in the beginning it is a little difficult to really listen to another person, without offering advice, talking about yourself, and interrupting. You can use this tool before you meditate. One suggestion is talking about what you love and hate about meditation. Or work on anything that is on your mind. It works best in person. Pick someone you love, admire and trust. Your meditation practice will be enriched.