When I first started Meditating I could hardly sit still for 3 minutes let alone 5. I’d manage to go through the motions for 5 days or so and then something would happen and I’d fall out of it. Then I’d beat myself up about not doing it. Then I’d do it again. Maybe for a little bit longer. Maybe not. Erratic. Unpredictable. All over the place. My practice was an analogy for my mind……………..and me.
It’s now a year and a half into my Meditation practice. My life is totatlly different. The time I go to bed is now completely changed so I can get up to practice before the day starts. I practice every day. For 30 minutes at the moment. My reading includes a lot of Buddhist and Zen Buddhist teachers. Norman Fischer’s book ‘Training in Compassion’ has me right now. I’ve set up a meditation meet up and started to teach. It’s fair to say that I’m head over heels into mindfulness. Why? Because I know what the alternative is all too well and I much prefer a life more mindful.
I’d like to share with you some of the insights I have had into Meditation practice that might help you if you are starting out. So here goes:
1. It’ll take a while before it works but that doesn’t mean you should stop.
If you have put on a lot of weight and you decide you want to shift it. It’s not going to move overnight. In fact your body is going to want to resist any form of exercise. It’s gotten used to being lazy. The mind is the same. Whatever thoughts you have let your mind work with unchecked will not want to let go after one or two ‘mindful’ breaths. At the start there are times when the mind let’s go for a breath or two and it shows you what could happen if practice is continued.
2. You’ve got to keep doing it.
When I look back now I can see how difficult it was to begin a steady flow of practice. I had so many choices of times in my day to practice. I could have done it in the morning, at lunch, in the evening or before bed. All these choices set me up to fail completely. It’s so easy to put things off and put things off throughout your day. By the time you get to the end of your day the old ‘Will-power muscle’ ain’t that strong. I found this decision making process along with my weak will-power a large hurdle that I stumbled on time and time again. I can give myself so many excuses why I won’t do it at the end of my day. The mornings work for me as it
a. Sets up a practice of non-reactivity within myself before anything comes at me in the day.
b. Means it’s not on the end of an endless to-do list that is on the back of my mind throughout my day.
Doing it in the morning creates a consistency in my day to day life which has transferred to many other parts of my life.
3. Things you don’t like will stay with you less.
The longer you sit with things observing them rather than obsessing over them the less tangible they seem. I won’t say that thoughts stop coming. They take less and less hold of me though. And it feels great! Feelings of anxiety, stress and unease are more fleeting than all consuming like they were in the past. This whole practice is about calming down. Being less reactive.
4. You won’t have to get emotionally charged so much any more.
We can still have feelings. We can still feel. The things that would have created a strong emotional charge before though I can choose to hold a little (or a lot) lighter. This for me is why I practice. It’s changed my entire life. How I react to me emotionally and to other people. I don’t get it right anywhere near as much as I’d like. I’m much less reactive than I was though and it makes me feel so much lighter. There’s so much space left when we start to remove the crap.
5. It’s a life long practice of self discovery.
I could never have imagined that I’d be able to maintain daily practices of self-care that I would look forward to and plan my life around. My life was so erratic. I was unstable. I had very unhealthy addictive coping mechanisms that I was carrying for such a long time. Some of the things I began to see in myself through taking time out to sit with me were unbelievable. Things staring me in the face that I probably never would have seen without practice. And it keeps coming. The mind needs practices of self-care not just as a ‘Spring clean’ or ‘once in a blue moon’ retreat or workshop. I think it’s so important to have practices of quiet, practices of calm every day and with it who knows what you will learn about yourself and how much it will teach you about your relationships?
So there it is. I could add so many more insights. Best to keep them for another day. Get practicing. For 1 minute, 2 minutes, 10 minutes. Whatever works for you. If you find it really tough. That’s normal. Keep going. Do what you can. Don’t worry about the rest. Trust me. It’s worth it!