The

No Bullshit

Guide

To Basic Meditation


Look, I’m not gonna sit here and tell you about all the benefits of meditation. I’m not gonna tell to go align your chakras or find your spirit animal. I’m not going to link you to evidence in the form of anecdotes, lengthy white papers or blogs that straddle the line in between.

I’m just going to tell you how I roll on this meditation game.

You don’t need to be this dude.

I’ve been frustrated with it. I’ve been told too many conflicting things. I’ve been influenced by what Hollywood has misconstrued it as. Been given too little or too much information on how to approach it. Definitely been fed too much spirituality-masked-as-science garbage about it. And all of this has turned me off to it.

It wasn’t until I sat down and started developing my own methods that it started to click, I started seeing measurable benefits and started getting days-lasting euphoric highs and clarity that would permeate into the creative and productive areas of the rest of my life.

Let me start out by saying a few things on the topic of what meditation is NOT (for me at least):

  • A connection to any religion, spiritual practice or formalized belief system outside of simply bettering oneself.
  • A method of trying to concentrate on “nothing.”
  • The forceful ejection of thoughts from one’s mind.

Okay, with that out of the way. 5 words that guide my meditation:


Acknowledge Thoughts. Return to Breath.

Acknowledge Thoughts. Return to Breath.

Acknowledge Thoughts. Return to Breath.

Incoming Mindfuck.

Here’s an exercise. For the next 1 minute, try as hard as your can to not think about White Bears. Count how many times in that 60 seconds that you think about White Bears. The lower the number, the better.

I’ll wait.

No seriously, do this shit. Learning doesn’t work unless you actually put forth effort instead of skimming.

60 seconds. Go.

Got the number? Good. Now imagine how many times you would’ve thought about White Bears in the course of that minute had I not asked you to not think about them. Probably 0. This is called “Ironic Process Theory” aka “The White Bear Problem” and it’s the exact reason why forcefully trying to clear your mind of thoughts has the exact opposite effect, turning into fixation on thoughts instead. You can try to use all kinds of clever tactics to avoid thoughts, but they will still pop up, sometimes even with giant middle fingers in the form of Rebecca Black’s “Friday.”

This was a demonstration in futility. Doing this as recreation or practice would be enough to make someone quit. So try this instead…

  1. Find a comfortable resting position and close your eyes. Closing your eyes is simply reducing distraction. I start with a sitting position, but this isn’t a necessity; however, it does come with an interesting “bonus” of sorts (more in step 3).
  2. Try to focus only on the sound and phsyical sensation of inhaling and exhaling.
  3. Unasked for thoughts will start bubbling up. Maybe this happens in 5 seconds. Maybe in a minute. But they will come, period. I often find the very first thoughts are physical discomforts. This is where the “bonus” of sitting comes in. Posture adjustments become very relevant when you first realize you might be sitting there for an extended period of time. Make these adjustments until you actually get to Step 1 (being in a relaxed position). The added benefit is that you build better sitting posture. Even still, more thoughts will intrude your mind. “How do I know if this is working?” “This isn’t working.” “My phone buzzed. What should I do?” “Good lord this is boring.” Keep reading. I got you.
  4. Acknowledge the existence of those thoughts and observe them. Don’t analyze why you’re thinking them or what you can do to get rid of them. Simply observe that they’re happening. Don’t fear the boredom that may come if you don’t act on them. And if you do fear it, acknowledge that fear and observe it. It’s natural, but there is a pay off coming. Wait for it.
  5. Once you’ve recognized that you’ve left your beaten path of staying focused on your breath, return to it. Focus on the sound and sensation of it. You may at some point turn breath into a game. “How slowly can I breath? How quickly? How deeply? Should I be inhaling through the mouth or nose? What about exhale?” Try different things out until you’ve once again reached Step #1. Finding a comfortable resting position.

These steps will be repeated over and over again, each time the next thought intrusion will take longer than the last to appear and seemingly require action. I’m talking about seconds longer, by the way. Don’t expect to reduce thought intrusion by entire minutes at a time on your first few goes. Not until you have what I call the “break through moment” of a given meditation session.

And whoah damn. It’s glorious.

I’m talking about the recognition of a building physical and mental euphoria like you have probably never experienced before (without drugs at least). The body gets tingly. The mind sharp. You begin to take in the surrounding presence of sound and touch in fine, granular detail.

“Oh shit, is someone staring at me? Did my roommate change the cat litter yesterday? Is there anything good on TV?”

These thoughts will still continue to invade your mind. The difference after this breaking point of euphoric recognition is that you would now much rather take smaller and smaller steps towards this sensation you’re feeling than doing any of the menial tasks that you considered emergencies at the start of your session. Katt Williams might call this


“…putting a little ‘Fuck It’ in your system.”

Of course at some point you’ll stop. The urge or necessity to return to life, do adult things, be entertained or what-have-you will eventually happen, but you’ll begin to notice after each session, little by little, you will feel better. You will feel more content. More in control. Sharper. Have more willpower in your day-to-day and most importantly — be able to do better next session, turning this into a feedback loop.

So go on. Get to work. Shit’s hard, but worth it. Just like all the most important things in life.

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