Are you ready to peel back the layers?
“The world within” — Raj Hayer, Dublin, 2018
There are many myths and misunderstandings about meditation; the greatest two are: 1. It is difficult to do, and 2. To be successful at it, you must reach some end goal of enlightenment
That’s simply not true. Meditation is primarily about finding time to sit silently and with yourself to release long-held stress. It is important to find the right method that works for you, and then ultimately, it comes down to practice.
“Meditation can help us embrace our worries, our fear, our anger; and that is very healing. We let our own natural capacity of healing do the work.” — Thich Nhat Hanh
Meditation is a tool like any other, one that helps us get control of our reactions and reduces our anxiety, anger or the feeling of vulnerability. Beyond that, once embraced and done consistently, I have found it is a conduit to unlock new ideas, identify business pivots, increase innovation, and ultimately unleash my creativity.
A simple method you can try today
There are infinite traditions associated with meditation and just as many methods and techniques. For example, a few methods I have tried:
Walking meditation. I found myself too distracted, afraid to trip over my feet
Lying meditation. I found myself falling asleep, which is not the primary goal
Sitting meditation. I found this the most simple and effective; read more here
Everyone must choose the right method for themselves and then find time in their day to do it. For example, Transcendental Meditation has become popular and more mainstream due primarily to its simplicity to implement.
Transcendental Meditation (TM)
TM requires only a comfortable chair and a maximum of 20 minutes, twice a day, to achieve. It is not about concentration, visualisation, nor about control or mindfulness. However, the name may seem a little airy fairy other-worldly, but it is one of the most practical and useful methods available to you. However, like all good things, even TM experts acknowledge their simple method requires practice.
It is about resting comfortably in silence with a repeated mantra. A mantra is just a positive affirmation that you repeat, you can find some options here; my favourite from this list right now is “If I change my thoughts, I change the world”, we could all use a little of that during this pandemic. It can be as simple as “I am sitting in my meditation with peace and love”. Or if you need something a bit more connected to traditions, try “Om aim hrim klim chamundaye vichche”. The end goal is to find your true, authentic self - reconnect with who you are.
Using this method there is nothing stopping every single person from meditating every single day and achieving the benefits from the practice. There are no rules of dress and no tools necessary other than sitting still, sitting quietly, and clearing the mind. The more practised I get, the greater my ability to do it anywhere, at any time. At home, on vacation, at work during a break, or even on an aeroplane, it’s the ultimate reboot for your brain.
Barriers to practice
It’s easy to make excuses not to do it:
I am much too busy in my everyday life to sit around doing nothing for two hours every day
I have more important things to do with my time
This is really self-indulgent
Darn, I can’t remember my mantra; what was it again?
I know I’ll get distracted
I don’t really have space in the house to dedicate to mediation
Firstly, if you can’t find 10 minutes to meditate, then you need 30 minutes; if you can’t find 30 minutes, you need two hours…do you get where I am going with this? The idea you don’t have or can’t find time for yourself is in itself an indication of how much you need meditation and time for yourself!
Secondly, you don’t need any tools, you don’t even need a mantra; any positive statement will do; say it any way you like and just repeat it. It’s a tool to bring you back to focus and not get distracted that’s all.
Thirdly, I am sure you can find a chair in your home to do this…maybe check the dining room? You got this.
Create a daily practice
Schedule mediation into your everyday life. Practice makes perfect. Simple and succinct is best. Find a method you can use anytime, anywhere and just start.
The only difficult part is creating and sustaining the habit and embedding it within your day, every day. The best way to do this is to try some habit-building techniques, that will help you start and stick with it:
Start in small increments of 10 minutes. Anyone can find 10 minutes in the day, right?
Connect mediation to an existing habit you already have. Do you have a morning or evening ritual? Like brushing your teeth? Or morning stretches? Then do the meditation directly before or after that. Eventually, you will create an association and do it without thinking.
Do it for 21 days straight. We have all heard the idea that it takes 21 days (or 40 days, depending on your source!) to create a habit. So make sure you do it this long and then, only then, start increasing your time sitting with mediation.
Your goal is to create the habit of meditation.
Stick with it
Even now, there are times that I sit in silence and experience it as easy and uplifting. There are other times when sitting in silence can be difficult and frustrating, and I want to give up. The key is to manage your expectations and continue through the frustrating times. It is more important to continue through the frustrating times, as that frustration signals that you are releasing stress and need meditation.
Consistency will pay off in the end.
Your goal is merely to be to sit still, to quiet the mind, and incorporate meditation and mindfulness every single day, for at least 10 minutes a day. That’s it, quite literally.
Mastering the art of sitting still and silencing the mind, that IS meditation.
Not enlightenment, not levitating, not some overnight miracle. The more we meditate, the clearer the mind becomes and the more we will manage stress effectively, but it takes time. Which we all have right now.
Taking time for yourself and allowing yourself to be at peace allows you to control the only thing you can control, yourself.