How to Develop a Meditation Practice

How+to+Develop+a+Meditation+Practice

Milo Schooleman, Journalist

Let me ask you guys a few questions before we start.

  • Do your thoughts control you more than you control them?
  • Do you have constant anxiety about the future or the past?
  • Do you jump to conclusions about yourself and others?
  • Are you trying to break a bad habit or an addiction right now, or are you starting to practice a good habit?
  • Have you ever wanted to experience every moment in life fully?
  • Do you feel like you´re just existing but not living?
  • Do you want to be happier?

 

If you answered at least one of these questions ¨yes,¨ you’re in luck my friend because mediation can help you with all of these and so much more.

What is meditation?

There are thousands of meditation practices out there that have been around since the age of civilization, but today we are focusing on Vipassana meditation, or what western countries call ¨mindfulness meditation.¨ The practice is the most widely researched, and it is also the oldest of Buddhist meditation practices. The method comes directly from the Sitipatthana Suttthe, a discourse attributed to Buddha himself.  

The purpose of meditation is personal transformation, as stated by the book ¨Mindfulness In  Plain English¨

“The you that goes in one side of the meditation experience is not the same you that comes out the other side,” Mindfulness In Plain English also states “It changes your character by a process of sensitization, by making you deeply aware of your own thoughts, words and deeds. “

The impact is transformative. “Your arrogance evaporates and your antagonism dries up. Your mind becomes still and calm. And your life smoothes out,” Thus. meditation properly performed “prepares you to meet the ups and downs of existence.” It reduces tension, fear and worry. “Restlessness recedes and passion moderates. Things begin to fall into place, and your life becomes a glide instead of a struggle. All o this happens through understanding,” states ¨Mindfulness In Plain English¨

According to mindworks.org  meditation sharpens your concentration and your thought process. ¨Meditators are less likely to find themselves at the mercy of distractions and an unruly mind than people who don’t meditate¨ Then, piece by piece, your own subconscious motives and mechanics become clear to you. Your intuition sharpens. The precision of your thought increases and gradually you come to a direct knowledge of things as they really are, without prejudice and without illusion. So are these results reason enough to investigated meditating?  These are just promises on paper. There is only one way you will ever know if meditation is worth the effort. Learn to do it right, and do it. You will see for yourself. 

Before beginning, it’s important to separate fact from fiction. 

What meditation isn’t 

According to Bhante Gunaratana, a meditation teacher and author, meditation is not: 

  1. Just a way to relax.
  2. A way to go into a trance.
  3. A mystic practice that has no science research.
  4. A way to become psychic or levitate.
  5. Dangerous. 
  6. Only for spiritual holy people. 
  7. A way to run away from reality.
  8. A great way to get high.
  9. Selfish. 
  10. Boring, nonsensical, and does nothing but just waste time.

How do you meditate?

It comes down to the age old question, ¨How do I do it?¨ It starts with discipline. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s true. If you’re not able to sit down and take five minutes out of the day then meditation will not come easy for you. Let’s start from the top, to form a habit of meditation, make sure you have a goal. That could be anything from ¨I want to hit 30 days of meditation,¨ or ¨I want to go on a meditation retreat some day,¨ or maybe something as simple as, ¨I want to be more mindful.¨ 

But make sure your goal is realistic. Give yourself a deadline. For example, ¨By the end of 2020, I want to meditate for 30 minutes a day.¨ This is actually my goal right now. But this also builds up urgency to get it done. Lastly, meditate using a scheduled approach, like doing it once you wake up or once you’re about to go to sleep. This helps prevent you from procrastinating or getting distracted and missing out on meditation sessions.

Your turn

Now I want anyone reading this to right now find a chair or a nice place to sit; lying down is fine, but make sure you do it on a hard surface so you don’t fall asleep or get drowsy.

Now with your eyes closed and breathing into your nose naturally I want you to count to 10 in your head every time you breathe in and out.

Breathing in (1) breathing out (2) breathing in (3) breathing out (4). Do this until you get to 10 and repeat. While doing this if you experience any thoughts lasting anywhere from a second to a whole chunk of time, or any physical sensations such as a sound or an itch, or If you feel any distraction of any sort for the matter that is keeping you away from concentrating on the breath, gently notice that you are distracted. Bring your mind back by saying, ¨I’m distracted.¨ After that, bring your attention back to the breath and the counting. When you feel ready or you feel yourself finding it harder and harder to concentrate, let your concentration go, and let your mind be free. After a little bit more time, open your eyes.

Congratulations, you meditated!  

If you enjoyed the experience or if you found it boring please just try it for a week. 10 minutes a day is all most experts agree you need. The more you work on it, like anything else in life, the faster you’ll see benefits. 

 If you want to research more into meditation, I highly recommend these sources below:

¨Mindfulness in plain English¨ (a book)

¨The mind illuminated¨ (a book)

Headspace (an app)

Calm (an app)

Any meditation timer (available in the Apple Store or on Google Play)