You should, just hear me out.
We are 4 weeks in to 2020 and you probably gave up on your resolution. I can’t even remember what mine was, something about eating less sugar (as I consume a huge bite of blueberry coffee cake).
If you need an early replacement resolution or just a new healthy habit in your life, I suggest you try meditation. It’s a simple and accessible practice that’s gotten a lot of hype recently, yet many overlook.
For most of my life, I always thought of meditating like this:
Something that guru’s did, or people trying to reach spiritual enlightenment. I never considered it as an option for me.
Nowadays, meditation has a lot of hype and seems to be associated with this:
Somehow, we’ve gotten to a strange place with meditation and mindfulness but meditation is actually an important practice that can be wonderfully restorative and help you feel more in control of your mind and emotions.
I feel that most people are turned off from meditation before ever even trying. We have all these preconceived notions and mental images, when we think of meditating and what it should look like.
I think it’s important for us all to meditate but not for the reasons you might expect.
What’s Meditation About?
Earliest documented records that mentioned meditation involved Vedantism, a Hindu tradition in India, around 1500 BCE. There must be something to it if it’s stuck around this long.
Allow me to explain what it is about, by telling you what it’s not.
Meditating is not about
- becoming enlightened
- advancing to a new spiritual plane
- becoming a better person
- being more productive
- being happier
It’s DEFINITELY not whatever this is:
We meditate to give our minds a rest. Our minds are racing away all day, focused on all the things happening outside of us. We forget about our incredibly rich internal world and rarely take a moment to check out what’s going on inside. It’s not about becoming anything.
It’s about allowing yourself to take some time for yourself, to really care and focus on your–Self, with a capital “S.” It’s about finding your perspective and gaining a strong command on your experience of life. Through meditation we find the mindset that allows us to be those aforementioned things ^^.
Learning how to stop thinking, about the past and future, is a SKILL that most people do not have. Ruminating over the past and things we can’t change makes us unhappy, while thinking about the future and the things we have no control of, makes us anxious. Finding a way to focus on and live in the here and now, is the only fulfilling way to live our lives. And it doesn’t require any tech.
Meditation and Me
When I started meditating 3 years ago, I thought I was going to look like this:
I initially thought of meditation as a means to an end, as in I could get something out of it. I wanted to be more productive, happier, more energetic and enlightened. All though all these things can happen subsequently to meditation, it’s not from meditation on its own.
I was actually really embarrassed to start meditating, though I was curious for years. I felt silly at the idea of sitting cross-legged in a room by myself. I thought, “who am I?” I’m not a zen master, I’m not the kind of person that meditates, I like to play basketball and Super Smash Bros. I was embarrassed to even tell people I was meditating, I didn’t want people to think of me as a pretentious, hippie-dippie.
I finally decided to stop caring about what these imaginary people think about me, I stopped judging myself and thought, “I AM the kind of person who meditates,” then I sat my ass down and became him.
Through meditation I’ve developed:
- better emotional regulation
- some form of consistency
- moments of peace of mind
I’m not a master by any means. I still got a lawwww-hah-hah-onggggg way to go but it’s a start.
How to Get Started:
You can meditate anywhere, literally anywhere. You don’t need to be sitting cross legged or have your eyes closed-though it helps.
Meditation is all about your mental space. Any time you are solely focused on the present moment, on your body and your breath, you are meditating.
Finding a calm, quiet and controlled space is the easiest environment to put yourself in a meditative state, so I would just start there. I sit cross legged with my eyes closed to meditate because it helps me remain calm and focused on my intention.
The core of meditating is monitoring your breath. When you focus on breathing, you stop thinking about anything else. It forces us to connect our mind with our body and actively participate in this life giving action. Just feel your breath, in and out.
Some people like to use guided meditations like “Headspace” or various podcasts/YouTube videos. For a beginner, it can be very helpful.
Keys for your first meditation:
- Don’t have any expectations
- Be patient, be forgiving
- Enjoy yourself
At first, it’s probably going to be really hard. You’ll notice how your mind keeps racing and before you know it you’re lost on some crazy thought tangent and you have no idea how you got there. Just relax, don’t expect it to go any type of way. Don’t be frustrated when you can’t seem to focus, just enjoy the feeling of sitting quietly, with your eyes closed and nobody bothering you. Treat yo self.
Start with just 5-minutes. 5 minutes and you’re done for the day. Once you build the routine you can ramp-up to 10, even 15 minutes. My goal is to get to 20 minutes, twice a day 😟.
The first half is the hardest part, thoughts are firing off and rattling around but if you wait long enough, things will quiet down. Once we finally reach that point of stillness, of mental calm and focus, trust me, it feels really nice… like a hot tub for your mind.
Don’t worry if you ‘re doing it wrong. If you’re thinking about the way you are sitting or if you’re doing it correctly, you aren’t meditating, you are just worrying! Don’t judge yourself. There is no right or wrong way to do it, except for worrying about not doing it right, that’s wrong.
Make it a habit. It’s most beneficial when we make it part of our lives. If you fall off your routine don’t beat yourself up about it, just get back to it. It’s a lot harder for us to start up again, when the penalty for failure is you feeling miserable about yourself.
It helps to have a meditating buddy.
What I learned from meditating:
- do something for the sake of doing it, not for the end product
- delayed gratification
- I am not in control of my mind at all
- I deserve some me-time
I try to enjoy meditating, just for the sake of meditating, to enjoy the practice of it and stay grounded in the moment. I’m not expecting to feel like a new man after every session, I know the benefits will reap themselves throughout my life in the intangible ways. I understand that I am not in total control of my thoughts and sometimes I need to settle down and monitor them. I think I deserve to set aside part of my day, towards focusing on myself.
I know the benefits of meditation won’t show up immediately, or anytime soon. Our lives change like our thoughts, slowly and gradually, then all of sudden everything is different.
I realized I’m not doing this for anyone else, I’m doing it for me. After all, you can’t spell meditating without “me.” Otherwise it’s just ditating.