Learning how to meditate is like going to college. Although inspired to learn, you have to be committed to learn. Completing college, or learning a new meditation practice, is not always so easy. The benefits come after patience, discipline and determination. Getting a college degree does not happen overnight, neither does learning meditation.
The question is are you determined and committed enough to learn how to meditate? Nothing is impossible and meditation, once you get the hang of it, will become quite natural to you. Actually meditation is the most natural thing. We were born relaxed. We were born meditating!
Because of growing in the society, we lost our natural instincts to just be and relax. The most important thing is, are you ready to take on the journey to learn meditation?
Once you have decided to start a meditation practice, or even integrate it minimally into your life, you have taken the first step – you have turned inspiration into action.
Now that you have decided to learn how to meditate, listed below are things to consider before getting starting to practice. This way, your meditation can be uniquely yours.
Why do you want to meditate?
Consider now the reasons why you wish to meditate. Do you want to just find some peace in your life? Are you seeking some answers that you cannot find elsewhere? Are you trying to increase your ability to focus or concentrate? Or, are you just trying something new?
Knowing the real reasons why you wish to meditate will always remind you to “keep on going” when you begin to feel like “it’s not working” or “I can’t do it” thoughts come up. Every student that goes to college can hit roadblocks in their studies, however despite the challenges, they remind themselves the benefits of school and the reasons why they are attending, so they stick to their commitment.
Same thing with meditation, the foundation of reasons why you want to meditate, will keep your
practice strong and fruitful.
How much time do you have to commit to a meditation practice?
Consider now how much time you would like to commit to a practice. Are you considering meditating daily? A few times a week? Once on the weekends? Or, several times a day? It is important to know your time commitment to starting a meditation practice because this way you will set aside certain times just for meditation.
For beginners, I would suggest starting with a daily meditation practice of 5 minutes. Remember, meditation is a state of relaxation. When beginning meditation, you do not want to force your practice or overwhelm yourself, this will keep you from relaxing.
If 5 minutes daily is too much to start, try meditating 5 minutes a day, 3 times a week. If 3 times a week is too much, try once a week. In the beginning, the important thing is establishing a disciplined practice.
When you build a strong foundation of discipline, you will be committed to your meditation practice. If you are worried more about length of meditation practice time, you can meditate everyday for 20 minutes, however after a month you may have dropped your practice, because you did not work on the the discipline.
So, decide in the beginning how much time you would like to meditate and stick to it. Start small. If you like start with 10, 20, 30 minutes, or even an hour, and after time you realise it was too much to start, just go back to the simple 5 minute meditations. The journey is trial and error and what feels right for you.
There is no “right length of time” for meditation. As long as you start and maintain a meditation practice, that is what truly matters. If you get frustrated about the “time” remind yourself why you wanted to meditate (step 1). Keep meditation simple. Relaxation is experienced in simplicity.
What will distract you during your meditation practice?
What can you do to temporarily separate yourself for a few minutes?
It’s important to know what you constantly think about or feel throughout the day, because these things can become distractions during your meditation practice. For example, if you are always constantly thinking about work, then it is most likely you will think about work unless you learn how to ignore the distractions for a few minutes.
Also, if you think your children might be a disruption during your meditation practice (which is very common and normal because they need mommy or daddy’s attention) is there a way someone can watch them for 5-10 minutes while you relax and meditate?
Instead of learning what distracts you while you are trying to meditate, which will cause stress, uneasiness, worry, or negative thoughts (and keep you from meditating!), it is better to know them ahead of time so that you can find a solution or work around them. Anytime you begin to feel distracted during your meditation practice, remind yourself of the reasons you listed in step 1 and remind yourself of your level of commitment (step 2).
Where would you like to meditate?
Consider where you will most likely be meditating for your practice. The location is quite important as if you select a “noisy” area it may be harder for you to sit quietly, peacefully and without any distraction.
Or, if you decide to go to a natural setting like the beach, mountains or forest, you have to consider the time involved to get to your meditation location. If you decide to meditate at home, do you have a special place you can setup that no one will touch or go to?
Just like in college, we select a “chair” and it becomes “your chair” for the semester. You feel comfortable learning from this chair. All the students know this and respect your spot. For meditation, having a set location helps you stay committed. It is “your spot”, “your place to relax” and anytime you pass by or your meditation area comes into eye’s view, you are instantly reminded of the peace you always feel. It becomes a “new home” within your home.
Try selecting a place that is simple, without much distraction or noise. Set it up with a pillow, blanket, candle or some incense to help set the mood for meditation. Protect your “meditation home” and let no one enter or use your pillow as now this your special place. It will contain your positive and healing energy, so protect it and let no one “zap it” of your efforts.
Do you have meditation support?
Starting a meditation practice is a very big step. Many people are taking this step along with you. It is important though to have some support from friends, family, or even acquaintances that inspire and encourage you to continue with your practices. Also, it is helpful to have a meditation teacher.
This way you know you are always on track and if something happens, they are there to help you. Many questions will come up during your meditation practice. Experiences may happen. So having a few people to share your path with is encouraging, motivating, and will help you push forward.