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Sitting down on my meditation cushion is the equivalent of a mind orgasm for me.
When the annoying small-minded voice inside my head quiets down enough to allow the vast open-minded stillness to be revealed, it’s like the clouds lifting to give way to the striking blue sky that’s been there all along. Everything shifts.
Not your experience? Stay with me.
For many years, it wasn’t mine either. I knew the potential of a daily meditation practice, but I wasn’t sure how or why it worked, or more importantly, how to squeeze the most juice out of the lemon.
Most days, I didn’t practice. When I did, I was going over my to-do list while intermittently remembering the past. It was entertaining, but it most definitely was not a meditation practice.
Fast-forward to today, I am the founder of the online Mind Oasis Meditation Center. In this role, I meet a lot of people who say they want a consistent and powerful meditation practice. Which is encouraging, as engaging an inspired meditation practice is the underpinning to a happy and fulfilling life.
I’ve also discovered, however, that most of us want the benefits of meditation, but we get discouraged, as it takes time to cultivate a powerful practice.
There are many reasons that many of us don’t see a return on investment fast enough to stick with it.
Here are the top five things I see students struggle with, along with what we can do to change this in a relatively short period of time.
1. Not creating boundaries.
As it is in life, so too it is in your practice. You need a dedicated meditation space and established time to practice. As a reformed wild child, I can empathize with the idea of simply sitting when and where we can. However, it wasn’t until I started placing meditation at the start of my day, before anything else could snag my attention, that I started having a consistent powerful practice. Additionally, while I love having little altars everywhere, a dedicated meditation space offers me a “coming home” feeling when I sit. This space says to my mind that it’s now time to do something different.
2. Coming in too hot.
When we run around all day and then suddenly decide it’s time to sit, we can’t expect everything to just click over to calm-abiding. A worthwhile approach is spending a little time cleaning up our space, finding our intentional breath, noticing our five senses, and checking in with our physical, emotional, and mental state. We need to take time to shift from the ordinary day-to-day to the extraordinary space of the present moment.
3. Going at it solo.
While it may feel counterintuitive, meditating with a group is one of the most efficient ways to nourish your practice. This is why I created an online meditation group that is a live, lovely, and interactive resource for meditators. Lots of studies have demonstrated that the chance of meeting a goal is significantly increased when done in community. Having a set commitment to sit with others gets me on the cushion the day prior (it has moved to the forefront of my mind), the day of the session itself (I’ve made a commitment), and (because the time together was so lovely) the day after. Suddenly I’ve meditated three days in a row, why not make it four?
4. Skipping over the mind wandering celebration.
We need to celebrate the very thing that we mistakenly think we should be suppressing. This is the specific place in our practice that we can, over time and with volition, minimize mind wandering. The power lies in celebrating the part of our mind that remembered we were supposed to be meditating. This encourages our mind to remember again next time.
5. Ruining our meditation practice using apps.
When we engage heavily guided recordings on an app, they are essentially meditating for us. If we want a practice that is useful both on and off the cushion, we have to work with our mind. Recorded meditations may be convenient and feel easy, but if we want to engage the presence muscle, we have to put in the reps. The better route? Get a meditation teacher, get into a community of meditators, and learn the tools and techniques necessary for working with your mind in silence.
Finding, building, and keeping a consistent practice that we look forward to every day requires some dedicated work upfront, but once we get the meditation muscles flexing, we’ll find that our time on the cushion is well worth it.
By addressing these five barriers to a powerful practice, you’ll be on your way in no time to a daily mind orgasm too. Finding a meditation teacher and a community is the best way to do this.