When you first start to meditate, it’s almost impossible to approach this new practice without at least some degree of expectation. Initially, I started to venture down the meditative path because I was struggling to find something that would help me with my panic attacks. There was a mindfulness course being offered at one of the hospitals in town and I signed up for the class and I really enjoyed it. The gift of desperation was the motivating factor in learning this new life skill, but it ended up being a blessing in my life.
The only goal that you need to hold when it comes to the practice is a focused presence, and whatever reveals itself is a reward for the effort you’ve put in.
One of the most challenging things you will be tasked with when you start meditating is to have no final destination or reward in mind, empty your mental anticipation. Everyone is so strapped for time, and to try and persuade someone to sit for 30minutes(or more), can be quite the sell. Not only do you need to be sold on the investment of your time, but also how quickly or slowly the rewards may come. Some people seem to slide into the practice with ease and are able to make it a habit without much resistance; that I assure you wasn’t my experience at all. I will say that after some time the juice was certainly worth the squeeze.
Sure, regular meditation, as many of you know can bring peace to a racing mind, but it shouldn’t be the primary goal prior to your sit. The reason being is that the rewards from meditation are rarely linear, and when you have tunnel vision on a particular destination you miss out on little subtle awakenings and subtle changes along the way.
All you need to do is simply relax into this new experience, just as it is. It’s not good or bad, it’s just an experience. We don’t have to do anything about it. It doesn’t need to be changed. Check-in with yourself, be curious about it — what is it like right now? What are you sensing in your body? Be with yourself and this new experience, regardless of your thoughts or feelings about it. There is a tremendous amount of activity in this new stillness.
My attempts to articulate the benefits I have gained from the practice are challenging, especially due to its mystical nature. I will say that the stillness and clarity I experience following a session is a state far different than a great sleep or even a drug-induced down, and I think that is why people almost become addicted to the practice once they find that zen within.
Where should you start?
Start with your breath. Sit in any chair, close your eyes, and place your attention to the air as it flows through your nostrils, down through your windpipe, into your belly. Watch for the subtleness of the breath as it pauses at the bottom and then the reverses itself back out of the body. Repeat this process 5 times.
Congratulations, you have just completed your first meditation.
You can go through these easy steps anywhere, at any time, and it costs you nothing. While mediation doesn’t need to financially burden you, I would strongly suggest checking out a Buddhist center, or a mindfulness course to help expedite the process. A well-practiced guide can help you connect with your body, breath, and hopefully stillness much more quickly than if you were to coach yourself through this new skill and power in your life.