The practice of remembering to think about nothing; or to think about not thinking. Meditation has its difficulties. Let me explain.
The word itself sounds foreign, intimidating and even blasphemous (to some). But at its core, meditation is the simplest of all tasks: Think about nothing. It’s the internal equivalent of turning off a television when you aren’t watching it. The TV will last a lot longer if you don’t keep it running all day, correct?
Even though the goal of this practice is simple to describe, this does not mean it is easy to perform. Quite the opposite is actually true; especially in our day and age. I want to digress for a moment to explain why I think quieting the mind is more difficult in this generation than ever before.
- Social Media It runs our lives. Snap Chat. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Pick your poison. Having one or all of these apps on our phones is commonplace. This makes the incessant, knee-jerk reaction of checking these apps almost impossible to avoid. Impossible until we make a conscious decision to either delete the app from our phone, or to think before engaging in mindless scrolling. This is destroying our ability to quiet our minds because any down time that used to dedicated to shutting off the mind is now filled with the usage of social media. Many times we are thinking about these apps even when we aren’t even using them. Because of this we are stuck wondering if our next Tweet should be witty or informative. Should our next IG post be food, OOTD or a selfie? Did I just miss a unique Snap Chat opportunity?
- Our culture views down-time as something to feel guilty about. What are you doing with your life if you aren’t working in the corporate world, involved in 17 intramural sports, becoming the next Elon Musk, traveling to exotic locations, or raising children? Let’s be clear, I’m not dogging these things. I think they have their places. However, should we be finding our worth in how many things we say ‘yes’ to? Should we be ‘yes people’ all the time, 24/7? If you’re going to pack your schedule with a million activities, it’s all the more important that you schedule some time alone. Think of this alone time as the ‘savasana’ of life. Savasana is the period at the end of a yoga class when you simply lay on your mat. Not moving and certainly not thinking. The purpose of this is to gather the energy you have just created from your yoga practice. You’re soaking up all of the goodness created by your body. Without this figurative ‘savasana’ from your daily activities, you won’t be getting as much from them as you could be. Click here for an exceptional article about savasana.
Here are my tips for starting a meditation routine.
- Start Slow Even though there is no limit to the amount of meditation that would be beneficial, don’t set yourself up for failure by going gangbusters right away. Vowing to meditate an hour per day will probably hurt your productivity in the long run. Why not set aside 10 minutes instead? It’s more manageable and thus more likely to actually happen.
- Try Guided There are many free guided meditation videos on YouTube. A guided meditation video will walk you through the steps of closing your eyes, relinquishing thoughts, and you may even mentally end up on a beach or in a meadow. These are a great way to start. Click here to try a guided meditation for beginners.
- Bring Supplies If you’re more advanced, you may like to have essential oils or crystals with you. These are wonderful talismans, but not necessary for beginners. I do, however, recommend you bring a notebook/pencil and a timer. Set the timer to ring after 8-10 minutes so you can completely forget about the passage of time. Let the timer take care of that. The notebook is for writing down thoughts and visualizations/realizations that may have occurred. Always mark the date on your paper and always write down something. Even if it is just one word.
- Consistency Make time for yourself. It is not selfish to spend time working on becoming your greatest version. And make no mistake, meditation is the key to achieving your greatest version. I’ve learned that ‘consistency’ is a scary word for many people; it’s dangerously close to ‘commitment’ after all. If you cannot be consistent at least be persistent. Insist on keeping this going, even if you forget or miss a day or two. Don’t give up.
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