For most people meditation is a myth. It is something they want to do but the reality is, doing it rarely happens. We know meditation is good for us because the benefits are touted everywhere. It helps lower stress, decrease anxiety, lower blood pressure, promote peace and joy, improve focus, tap into creativity, boost endorphins, relieve pain, improve sleep, and increase energy. Even though it has so many advantages it is such a struggle to take ten to twenty minutes of our day to do it. Yet we can spend hours on our phones or watching TV. Blaise Pascal says, “All of humanity’s troubles stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
Why is it so hard for most people? It is because what people think meditation is and what it is in reality, are two different things. Most people believe that to be successful meditating they must clear their mind of thoughts and achieve inner peace. If they sit down to meditate and don’t achieve this, they become extremely frustrated with themselves for not being able to be in control of their thoughts. This is not what meditation truly is. Meditation is the act of becoming the observer of the environment, the body, and one’s thoughts. The thoughts will always be there unless someone has achieved a high degree of mastery of the mind through years of dedicated practice. Most people have no desire to attain this mastery so letting go of the expectations that the thoughts will stop allows a person to set the intention to meditate and let go of the fear of failure. The fear of failure is the true block. We remove the block by changing our beliefs about what meditation is and realizing there is no failing as long as we set the intention to sit quietly for a designated time and just do it regardless of how it turns out.
So how do you make meditation a reality in your life? To begin a meditation practice setting the intention is the first step. Just setting aside the time to sit quietly with oneself is enough. Anywhere from five to twenty minutes is a good place to start. Once you have the intention to meditate the second step is to commit to creating a new habit. To create a new habit, we need to do something daily for thirty days. For some people that may be a bit longer or shorter. You know you have created a new habit when you miss a day and really desire to go back to it the next day.
The third step is to find some meditations that you like. You don’t have to just sit in a room listening to your thoughts. There are hundreds of types of meditations like Zen, Samatha, Chakra, Qigong, Mantra, Vipassana and Mindfulness meditation. There is a meditation out there for everyone and most will find many types of meditations that they enjoy. It is often easier to start with a meditation that includes visualization or sound. These are easier to follow without getting distracted. When you can successfully finish a meditation without your thoughts taking off on you for the entire time you set aside to meditate it brings a sense of accomplishment. This accomplishment brings the desire to do it again the next day. Listening to guided meditations really aid in this too. Once the habit is firmly established you can always try some meditations that require more focus. In my book Heal Yourself, I include twelve of my favorite meditations. These come from various traditions and types to help promote peace and healing in the body.