Is It a Pen or a Chew Toy? Part I
Meditation has always been on my ToDo list. So far down but with high priority, which really doesn’t make sense. After I moved to Vancouver, one of my excuses for wasting time was the time I needed to adjust to the new environment. And that was a good opportunity to clear up that ToDo list. But there was a huge problem, and that was I was not getting anything done.
After a while I self diagnosed myself with “procrastination”. So I started looking for answer by watching TED videos and reading pop psychology books. From so many good ones and some bad ones, I felt somewhat different about one video than the rest. The reason why is very irrelevant to my point and you can watch the video here or search for a 2hr extended version of it. However, this was the talk that actually challenged me to start to meditate.
So I guess it is not important how badly you want to make meditation part of your daily routine, but there has to be something that lights up the candle. And by candle, I mean some sort of a belief system. I am not saying you should have religious beliefs, but think of it this way that there are some things in life that we know are good but we don’t do it, or we don’t put enough effort in it, because we don’t believe it’s working. Take new year’s resolution for example; we renew our gym membership, work out a few weeks, and we slack and eventually fall off. We don’t believe it’s being effective and we lose passion as soon as we hit the first plateau!
Purpose & Belief
Same goes with meditation. First of all if you think about it for a minute, you can see that there’s no clear explanation as what meditation is. It makes a lot of sense, because when you start practicing you will realize that you are discovering new things almost every time you meditate. So don’t expect anything in particular, in fact it is emphasized very often that you should not have any expectation. So your first job is to find a way to just believe in what you are being told in the early days of your journey.
Commit yourself to at least 3 weeks of regular daily meditation, and believe that it’s working, even if it doesn’t!
Second, not having expectation does not mean that you should not have a purpose. To be purposeful is incredibly important, even in small things we do in every day life. The word “mindfulness” that is at the epicenter of the 21st century western enlightenment culture, aka is very trendy, is taking up all the attention, while “purposefulness” is as essential.
Your purpose for meditation should be very personal and clear. If not, wait until you have one.
Tip: do it with a friend, share your experiences, sometimes even meditate together, or go to a temple for group meditation. Read books, articles, etc. Keep gathering information and increase your knowledge.
One of the magical things about meditation is how fast you can adjust your sitting position in daily life. Obviously after one week you become more body aware, and if you have a strong will you can cure your back pain in no time.
I strongly advice to search for articles and videos about proper sitting position and breathing techniques. Buy cushions and little accessories and anything that you need to maintain your good physique. It’s an investment for your health.
Your sitting position must be comfortable or otherwise the pain becomes a distraction. Remember, you can even start by doing meditation in lying position (the most comfortable), but you should be able to train yourself to sit like a zen master. It’s easier than you think.
In any situation and however you are sitting, my golden rule is to check your knees to be positioned lower (closer to the ground) than your sitting bones. Make sure your core (torso) is upright and shoulders are relaxed.
Tip: My golden rule for standing position is to squeeze your butt and to keep engaging your abs and back muscles.
If you follow my advice to train your body for correct sitting position, it helps you achieve stillness much faster. But why stillness is important? Why you should disregard itches or skin scratchers or any type of bodily movement?
Meditation is all about brain activity. If you keep the mind busy with anything else it simply underperforms because it has to dedicate some of the bandwidth to the surroundings. By keeping still you basically instruct your mind that you don’t need to be worried about any movement, therefore, it can easily shut down the nervous system until you wake it up at the end of the session.
Try it and you will love it. After sitting comfortably for 20min, you can feel the sense of “resistance” against a tiny movement. It’s as if you would like to move your finger and you definitely know how to do it, but it’s not moving! A very trivial skeleton-muscle move is blocked because your nerves that are supposed to transfer the signal from brain to your finger are turned off. It won’t happen until you mindfully turn them on again. Try it!
Whether your practice is meditation, prayer, skiing, or enjoying your breakfast, your ability to concentrate your full attention on the present moment of experience is the key to attaining the results for which you hope.
Is there an app for that?
Yes of course. There’s an app for everything. And I am going to list them below the ones I found useful. But bear in mind, there are many types of meditation and there are many styles. It is up to you to find which one is working better. So remember to believe in the concept and keep improving your knowledge by trying new things.
Apps are very good because you can keep track of your progress. My suggestion is try not to jump into apps first, and instead use youtube, soundcloud, spotify, etc. to get yourself familiar with what is on the market. Maybe you like male voice better. Maybe you prefer background music. And so many other things.
I tried the one week free trial of Calm, Relax Meditation and Headspace before I commit myself to Headspace. $12 per month.
Tip: Keep your mind open about various types of meditation. You become an expert before you know it.