Meditation is a practice and one of the primary practices of Buddhism, along with say studying the dharma and generosity. It’s also a major element in a number of other paths as well. Yet setting up a meditation practice can be very challenging. Some in fact see meditation as an act of spiritual will with the implication being that there indeed can be a battle of the wills.
- Do it every day. Try to not let one day slip without doing it or there will be others.
- Make a list of what meditation will bring you. and a list of what you will miss out on if you don’t meditate. Imagine yourself at the end of your life without having meditated. Make these as powerful as you can. If you feel demotivated remembering these lists can hold you in the practice.
- Identify what you are currently doing that gets in the way of meditation. What habits do you have. Maybe it’s easier to surf the net than to meditate, so we’ll use that as the example. Find a quiet place and try the following exercise. (You may need to repeat the whole exercise two or three times.) In NLP this is called the swoosh pattern:
- Create a close-up image of surfing the net.
- Create a distant image of yourself meditating. This should be seen as through an outside observer’s eyes.
- Swish the two images – rapidly push the stimulus into the distance, and bring the desired response right up to the user’s face. For effect, you can actually make a “swish” sound as the images pop into place.
- Allow the images to settle for a minute in their new places.
- Clear your mind into a neutral state.
- Repeat steps 1 through 5 until any thought of the stimulus leads directly to the response.
- Set yourself a time to meditate. An ideal times is first thing in the morning before your day starts. This lets your brain know that it’s your top priority.
- Set yourself a place to meditate as well.
- Make sure you’re not going to be disturbed. Find a time and place away from distractions.
- The Bhagavad Gita observes that meditation is not for those who sleep too little or too much. Make it part of a balanced lifestyle.
- Carry meditation into everyday life. Understanding the problem of mindfulness in everday life brings a lot to that concentrated mindfulness we call meditation. They then act to reinforce each other.
- Find a meditation practice that suits you. I like Zazen, but you might find something else that you prefer. Spend some time finding it. Experiment with some until you find the one that suits you. Apparently the major reason why 97% of people stop meditating is because they haven’t yet found the one that suits them.
- Let the people you live with know what you’re doing and enlist their support if you can. When they ssee how you’re benefiting from it they’ll be even more likely to give their support.
- Don’t try and do 45 minutes all at once. Start with even as little as five minutes and gradually work up to 30-45 minutes. Do what you can do without discouraging yourself that it’s too hard. You’ll find yourself after a while naturally wanting to extend the period.
- Realise that you may not meditate everyday, especially at the beginning. When you don’t take it easy on yourself and come back to do it again tomorrow.
- Make sure your posture supports meditation. Sitting with your back unsupported is a good guiding principle. As is avoiding pain. You don’t want to be uncomfortable, or worse in pain, during your practice. If you’re interested in the Lotus posture, then you might want to try the exercises in How To Grow A Lotus.
- You might be the kind of person that works better with a group, what Buddhists call a Sangha, that supports you in your practise. If so find a local group in your area.
- Be patient with yourself. Meditation takes practice. You will not get it right first time. Or the second time or the third time. In fact medtiation is all about practice. This means you can actually look forward to how it will be when you sit down to meditate. You’ll have a whole new set of observations about meditation. You might even say that good meditation is about not getting it right.
Meditation is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. I hope the tips above will help hold you in your practise.
May you awaken and be free.