Make a commitment to yourself like any other: eating healthy, working out, quitting smoking. What excuses were stopping you before? Was it that you didn’t have enough time? Did it seem overwhelming? Did you have the belief that it had to be for 20 minutes? Whatever stopped you before, create a situation where those are no longer excuses. If you didn’t have the time before, maybe you start while you are on vacation and you have nothing but time. Maybe it starts out becoming a weekend-only practice. Maybe you commit to 5 minutes. Make those commitments to yourself and do not allow yourself to miss a committed practice. If you find a new excuse, find a new solution.
2. Start Simply
Yes, almost everybody wants to get to the point where you can sit for a full 20 minutes in blissful mindlessness, but we all have to start somewhere. Just like you can’t jump on a bike the first time and cruise, swing a driver to hit a ball 220 yards, or knit sweaters the first time you pick up knitting needles. Meditation is an art and a skill. It is called a practice because that is what happens every time you sit down and quiet your mind. Almost everyone that starts begins with only a 5-minute goal. Every Saturday morning, before getting out of bed, sit up, close your eyes, and breathe. Set a timer if you like. Maybe you prefer to just check the time before and after you close your eyes. If you don’t make it to 5 minutes, that’s fine. One day you will, and it will feel really good when you do.
3. Practice Breathing
Part of the mindfulness of meditation is taking the things we do naturally and for granted and putting focus and emphasis onto those actions. When was the last time you focused on your breath? That feeling of your chest and lungs filling up with air and releasing it? The sensation of inhalation and exhalation entering and exiting through your nose or your mouth? The way each fresh sip of air makes your head feels energized again. Listen to your breath. Count to 4 with every inhalation. Count to 4 with every exhalation. If this is as far as you get on your first session you’ve done fantastic! You are further today than you were yesterday. Congratulations!
4. Find a Focus
For me, I needed to start meditating because my mind could not shut up. How was I supposed to go from non-stop chatter to a quiet mind? Even when I was trying I couldn’t stop thinking about all the things I needed to do today, all the conversations I should have had, the things I didn’t say but wanted to, a party that I had to go to 3 weeks in the future. It never ended. I ended up finally focusing on one idea at a time, or a mantra, whatever I was compelled to focus on in that day. Some days it was practicing the Buddhist Loving Kindness meditation, where I practice giving myself, people I love, people I am neutral to, and my enemies Loving Kindness. Feeling in my body what that felt like. Some days it was repeating the mantra “maximum clarity for maximum pleasure please” and then listening for an answer. Eventually, I would add more into my meditations. Eventually, I removed all thoughts except for whatever my meditation was for that day. Now I practice the daily meditation in the book A Course In Miracles. There are plenty of other books that give 365 days of meditations to help inspire and bring focus to the mind. Find something that works for you, and continue to find new ways of doing your practice.
5. There is No Right Way
Meditation is a solo practice. You can do it with the company of others or solo, but it is yours and yours alone. Like other skills, such as yoga, golf or painting, every day is different. One day you will meditate for 20 minutes straight, the next you will struggle to get through seven. One day you will be blissfully in that state of Zen, the meditation equivalent of a runner’s high, and then you may never experience it for months. It is called a practice because that is what happens every day you do it. A Course In Miracles says that meditation is like lifting weights. Even if you don’t see or feel a difference there is still something happening just by doing the daily act. When your practice doesn’t feel right look for a new way, maybe you want to practice with sound, or music. Look for a meditation class, or work with a spiritual coach. Change your practice up every now and then and feel the renewed sense of joy when your meditation is brought to a new, never experienced level.
Kim Orlesky is an Executive Life Coach inspiring daily joy. She is a world traveler, author, one-time marathoner, adventurer, poor golfer, inconsistent yogi and puppy parent to her Weimaraner.