Scientists, businessmen, and yogis agree that meditation is one of the most beneficial and effective practices for a happy, healthy, and less-stressed humanity.
This simple practice is supported by a rapidly growing body of research and has been shown to reduce stress, counter depression, and make you feel better about yourself and your life.
If meditation is such an effective (and free!) way to improve your performance as well as your quality of life, why isn’t everybody doing it?
Well, for most of us it’s not so simple. Almost everyone struggles when getting started with meditation and my first attempts were no different.
I would spend hours trying to wrestle my monkey mind into submission as thoughts of teletubbies, unresolved childhood arguments, and laundry filled my head.
As my attempts to quiet the mind failed, I would grow more and more anxious until my inner-state more closely resembled panic than inner peace.
I tried to meditate for years before finally experiencing that ‘ah ha moment’ where I got a glimpse of what all these crazy folks were talking about.
My many attempts, and subsequent failures, gave me insight into what exactly the problem was when I finally had the breakthrough.
Meditation is now the most important part of my daily routine. I use this time to relieve stress, get centered and put my best self forward for the day.
Here’s are four secrets that I wish someone had told me when I was getting started with meditation.
1. Succeeding at Meditation Requires Changing Your Perspective
You probably think you know what meditation is, how to meditate and what meditation is going to get you.
Looking back, I realize that the most important change I made was letting go of my preconceived notions about the practice and the expected result.
Meditation is not about experiences. Meditation is not about quieting the mind. Meditation is about being present with whatever is happening to you. Right now. Moment to moment.
All these other shiny benefits are side effects. Yes it relieves stress, yes the mind gets quieter, yes you’ll experience more peace and happiness. But the weird part is that you can’t try to do this.
You cannot learn to quiet your mind. The mind becomes quiet when you stop trying to control it and start observing it. Don’t try to quiet it because the more you try, the more you will fail.
2. Use A Gateway
Modern life is not in any way, shape or form conducive to meditation. Fortunately there are a few ways that you can slow down the mind before you sit down to meditate.
Start with a gateway activity such as yoga, spending time outside, going for a walk or taking a bath.
Spend a few minutes switching gears before you sit down, and you’ll find yourself naturally drawn into meditation.
3. Start Smart
Most people make the mistake of initially setting the bar too high.
Instead of trying to meditate an hour a day and suffering through it, engineer an initial success that you can then build upon.
I recommend that for one week, you make small commitment to mediate once per day for just three minutes.
If you’d like to continue meditating after your three minutes have elapsed, you may do so. But when your three minutes are up you have fulfilled your obligation and may continue on with your day guilt free.
The second week, bump it up to five minutes, then ten. Eventually you’ll find you can sit down with no timer, no obligation, and meditate as long as you like. Tailor it to fit your lifestyle.
4. Don’t Overcomplicate
While there are many different meditation techniques, the basics are universal and boil down to just four simple steps. This is what you need to know to get started:
Sit in whatever way is comfortable for you. On the floor, in an armchair, with a special meditation cushion. Just get comfy so you aren’t distracted by being uncomfortable.
Use a technique to focus the mind
There are many ways to focus the mind. Some people repeat a mantra, focus on a sound, or do a visualization. The easiest way is to simply focus on the breath.
Observe what goes on
Meditation is not about the outcome. It is about being present and simply noticing what thoughts are going through your mind, what sensations are going through your body.
If you spend half an hour thinking about Oprah, your meditation was a resounding success if you noticed that you were thinking about Oprah!
Your only job is to acknowledge whatever thoughts may come up, and whatever sensations you may experience.
Accept your experience without judging
Here’s a dirty little secret: Meditation probably won’t feel peaceful for a while.
You may spend the whole time going over your to-do list or processing a difficult conversation from the previous day.
Whatever your experience, the most important part is to accept it without judgement. As we build this muscle of acceptance, our compassion for ourselves and others grows as well. This is where the benefits of meditation begin to touch other areas of your life.
Just for Pick The Brain readers
The only way to experience the life-changing effects of meditation is to try it out!
I put together a special, free resource for Pick The Brain readers to help you up your game in life and business with meditation.
Matt Jager is a wellness advocate and yogi on a mission to give everyone access to the tools they need to look incredible, feel amazing and love life.
For a free guide on getting started with meditation, visit his website at www.dontlosethecow.com