You know all the benefits of meditation. It lowers stress, anxiety and blood pressure, and improves our self-awareness, memory, sleep, and overall health.
But when you tried it, it didn’t work for you. It was too hard, too boring, your mind kept wandering around. So you decided it’s not for you and moved on.
There’s a big misconception about meditation. We think it’s being in silence, without any thoughts, in pure bliss.
But that’s not what meditation is. Meditation isn’t about imposing a particular state of mind. It’s about paying attention to our experience to learn how our mind works.
When I was a child, I used to take apart electronics to study their parts and understand how they worked. That what meditation is.
We observe our experience without judging it or trying to change it in any way.
We meditate to understand our mind’s patterns. We do that with the same curiosity that drives a child to open up a radio receiver to figure out how it works.
You can’t meditate wrong. There’s no such thing. Whatever happens in your experience, allow it to happen. Whether it’s a though, a feeling or a body sensation, just observe it.
Remain open to all experience. Welcome all thoughts, all feelings, all sensations. Let them form and dissolve on their own. There’s nothing to do. Just notice what’s happening.
Pay attention to the tendency we have to label experiences as positive or negative, pleasant or unpleasant.
Open up to all of it saying, “this too.” Are you feeling peaceful? Good. Is anxiety starting to rise? Good. “This too.”
Boredom, negative self-talk? Good. Label these things and accept them. “Boredom? I see you! This too. Self-criticism? There you are again. This too.”
We have a natural tendency to resist negative emotions and that intensifies them. If we’re sad and give ourselves a hard time because we don’t want to be sad, we end up not only sad but also angry.
When we meditate and accept all experience, we remove this layer of resistance. We give our thoughts and emotions permission to form and then dissolve. We realize that all experience is temporary. Everything passes.
In life, we tend to identify with our thoughts and emotions. We say, “I’m sad.” We take this temporary feeling of sadness to be who we are. “I am sad.”
In meditation, we become the observer watching the sadness come and go. We are not sad. We’re the one observing sadness.
It’s not our sadness, just sadness. And because we don’t identify with it, we don’t need to resist it. We see it arise in our experience, say, “this too”, and let it run its course.
We’re no longer the lead character in our life movie. We’re the viewer watching the movie from the couch.
This gives us more perspective on what’s going on. It creates space between external circumstances and how we relate to them.
Instead of having knee-jerk reactions to everything that happens in our life, we create space so we can produce the most skillful response in every situation.
When it comes to meditation, consistency is more important than how long we meditate for. Ten minutes a day is much better than one hour once a week.
In my experience, it takes about 30 days to start noticing the benefits. Many people try it for a few days and quit it. Don’t do that. Commit to 10 minutes a day for 30 days.
Keep it simple. Just sit with a straight back and close your eyes. You can sit on a chair, the floor, or a bench. It’s a good idea to set a timer so your mind doesn’t need to keep track of how long you’ve been sitting.
I’ve been meditating for 15 years, so if you have any questions, DM me on Instagram @MindHacksTV and I’ll be happy to help.