You’ve heard about how it can provide you with clarity.
You’ve heard about all of the successful people who swear by it.
You’ve even heard about the science behind it, proving its effectiveness.
You’ve heard a lot, and now you’re ready to give meditation an honest try. First off, and most importantly, If no one else gives a f***, I am happy to know that you’re open to giving meditation a try. Open to growth.
I’ve been meditating for about five years, and I am often telling friends and family about how meditation has significantly changed my life for the better. I am far from an expert on meditation. I have simply had different “chapters” when it comes to my relationship with meditation and can provide some advice about how to get the most out of it.
Now that I feel the benefits daily, I am writing this in hopes that it makes the idea of meditation more approachable for you. This piece was inspired by conversations with friends and family over the last few months, so it addresses the things that people often misunderstand about meditation before getting started so that you can ease into it.
1. Approach with ease, young grasshopper
“But when will I FEEL a difference??”
Nowadays, we do things and feel the results of our actions immediately.
When you’re hungry, you can decide what you want to eat, get that sandwich for the 5th time this week and enjoy it.
When you hit the gym, you can lift weights for 30 minutes and see the positive reaction in your body. Looking for a jumpstart in the morning? A nice cup of coffee/caffeine will wake you up in a few minutes, easy.
Although it’s convenient, this is not always a good thing.
The problem is, we become programmed to expect fast results. We look for results from our actions constantly. Getting quick results can be a good thing in some cases, but when it comes to starting meditation, it’s something you need to ignore.
Once you have a better understanding of how meditation works, you’ll see that you’re not looking for a “feeling.” You’re just following the motions, kind of like a recipe.
You find the recipe, go to the store, get the ingredients, turn on your stove/oven, mix, stir, etc. After following these seemingly simple steps, you finally have your dish! Although this still leads to a physical outcome of food that you can eat, you’re going through a process to get the food.
This “process mentality” is how you should approach meditation.
If you follow the process and stick to it for a few days, you will feel the benefits much faster. You also want to make sure that you’re doing it right, which means you’ll need a teacher.
2. Who’s your teacher?
If you’re reading this far, you’re clearly thinking about or have tried meditation, but how are you approaching it?
Although the overall idea of meditation is simple, you want to make sure you’ve got this all right. Imagine spending months and months doing what you think is meditation, while you wonder why you’re not feeling any difference.
Lucky for you, finding the right guide or teacher is easy nowadays.
When beginning my meditation journey years ago, I gravitated towards a guided meditation app called Headspace. Headspace starts you off with a free 10-day meditation package, which had me sold as soon as I finished! I have been a premium headspace user since.
Now, of course, I am going to stand on a soapbox and preach about the Headspace app because of my experience with it, but I would be a liar if I said it’s the only way to go.
For example, throughout my brother’s meditation journey, he has sworn by a similar app called Calm.
What’s fantastic about meditation is that there are many different resources and teachers who are willing to help. Outside of a ton of guided meditation videos on what I like to call “YouTube University,” there are also breathing technique videos by a man named Whim Hoff that many people seem to love as well.
My point here is that meditation is not about a fancy presentation.
Meditation is an inner journey with yourself that you embark on. It’s all about you and your relationship with it. It’s a strange exercise that you never quite master, but you will feel the positive effects of it and get better at it over time.
3. Thinking about thinking
As I mentioned earlier, I have been meditating for five years.
This is one tip I really wish I knew before getting started.
I’ve had good meditation sessions, great meditation sessions, and a lot of lousy meditation sessions. Although I am thankful for them all, there is one common thing that I struggle with at times, which is thinking about thinking.
A common misconception of meditation is that you’re supposed to stop thoughts altogether, but that’s not true.
What you’re aiming to do is let the thoughts pass while you consciously choose to focus on your breath. It’s a very subtle distinction, but it makes a huge difference.
I thought it was essential to cover “thinking about thinking” because it can be so easy to sit there and ask yourself questions.
Am I doing this right? I wonder how much time I have left? Did I take the trash out? Whenever you get this feeling, always remember to ease up, GENTLY let the thought go, then bring your focus back to breathing.
Everything about meditation should feel gentle and forgiving of yourself. If you get frustrated, you are doing it wrong.
If you don’t remember anything else, remember how light and easy the whole process is supposed to feel. Your brain will thank you for it.