Sometimes in life all you need is a set of instructions. Well here are the slow and steady steps to meditation mastery. From here you can quell your demons or conquer the world. Ok it wont stop the slugs and snails but you wont be as angry or as devastated and you will enjoy the pleasures and treasures of your garden more because meditation wires the brain to a positive setting.
Meditation also elevates wellbeing and lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol – and so engenders serenity and surety of purpose in non-meditation scenarios. But in the beginning it can be a daunting task to uptake or a tricky skill to master. so lets explore some tips to overcome those problems.
Step one – forgive the cliché but all journeys really do begin with a single step – you have to start somewhere; so a single step is more than ok, it is real – it is taking action. Don’t try to do a 20min sitting first time. Get the fundamentals first. Follow your breath, when you notice you are thinking and not following your breath, return to your breathing. Allow yourself three distractions – three times to wander off focusing on your breath. That’s enough for now. Come back to it later.
You are training your brain to return to focus and wander less. You want to feel that you have mastered it three times not failed 100 times- so doing the short bursts of focus, wander, return is building capacity. You can lengthen duration as you go. Work up to a confident minute. Then a stress free two minutes, soon you can handle 5 then there after it’s however long feels right.
Step two – forgive yourself – meditation is not about never being distracted during a sitting, it is about catching the wandering and returning to the focus – to the experiential rather than indulging that evaluating nature of your mind. Don’t feel so bad that you are wandering, each wander in an opportunity to return, it is the returning that trains the brain.
Sometimes you are a whole shopping list down before you realize you have wandered, then it’s a 30sec reprimand with yourself – stop wasting time on guilt or pressure – just come back to the breath or chant or focus technique. The more you return the more you will hone skill and soon you will be catching yourself long before you have got two items on the grocery list.
Step three – don’t let it be a chore – this is a skill for life but it is also something that be engaged in without a heavy context. As a way to unwind – even though it delivers much more than that – it’s good to see it as something nice to do for yourself rather than another task on the check list of this already busy day. Sure it’s good to schedule it in, yes it’s good to have a routine but it’s ok to be easy with it and come to it when you get the chance.
Think of it like a time out, like listening to some music, having a cup of coffee, or taking a five minute stroll to gather yourself. Make it more of a reward than a chore- that way you will not only continue with it but find the zone quickly when you sit into it. Take the pressure out of the equation and enjoy. Take the work out of it and let it put the life back into you.
Thanks for the reminder, even following a single breath is meditation.