Learning to Meditate

learning to meditateIf you are just starting to meditate and finding it a bit frustrating, join the club, but rest assured it gets easier with practice.

When I first tried meditating it reminded me of golf, a sport that is supposed to be relaxing, but frustratingly hard to learn (for me anyway).

Somewhere I had read that in order to reach a deep relaxation, you need to sit cross legged with your hands a certain way, stay very still and start to clear you mind of all thoughts one by one. If you feel like moving or feel an itch you should ignore it and remain perfectly still. After a few attempts, I found I could not sit for more than a few minutes without either becoming distracted by other thoughts or experiencing physical discomfort to the point of distraction.

Shortly after beginning to practice meditation, I learned that there are actually many different ways to meditate. Some methods involved chants (see Soul, Mind Body Medicine), others involve music while others require complete silence.

Along the way, a friend had told me about the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, and I picked up one of his books, Peace is Every Step. There is a chapter in the book on meditating that struck me as very sensible. He suggests just letting meditation happen. Sit in any position that is comfortable. If you want to move, then do so. If you become distracted, don’t get upset, just try to bring yourself back. If you can only meditate for a short period of time, then that’s fine. If you can only meditate once every couple of days, then that is fine as well. Somehow this took all the pressure off for me, so I was able to ease into it. To continue reading this post, click here >>

I started to meditate more regularly, usually just for 5 minutes at a time. I must admit that at first I did not have a routine that included meditation so I often would go days without sitting. When I did sit, I would fidget and literally watch the clock and be amazed at how long it took for 5 minutes to pass. My mind was usually far from clear.

Then over time, it started getting easier. I could sit for ten minutes, then twenty and now I meditate early in the morning for 25-30 minutes every day. On many occasions I have meditated for much longer periods of time and feel a calm that is hard to describe. Normally I sit in a chair or sit cross legged and track my breath moving in and out as I take deep breaths. I have a timer on my iphone which I use to allow me to practice four different meditations without having to look at my watch. A very quiet chime tells me when it is time to switch meditations. My mind still wanders sometimes and when I notice, I simply pull my attention back to my breathing.

This is sacred time and now I can’t imagine missing a day.

Perhaps one day I will apply this patience to learning golf  (nah – I would rather play hockey in my spare time).

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