Moving from busy to a calmer way of being is easier when you include meditation as your regular routine. Everything starts from your mind so if it’s calmer in there, things outside of it will be as well. Did you know…
Meditation gives rise to mental peace.
It’s a reliable way to make your mind peaceful. And, if you check, you may not have any such process in your life that can do the same thing. I say that because this was completely true for me and for others I know.
If you can sit still and concentrate, you can meditate.
(If you’re saying no I can’t sit still and concentrate, pause for a moment and check if this is really true.)
For a long time, I thought, if I had the right job, the right wardrobe, weighed the right amount, looked a certain way, had enough me-time, traveled at-will I’d be content. I could be that calm and carefree person. And, you know what happens.
You’re never satisfied.
Do you ever wonder why?
When I started reading various Buddhist books years ago, it became super clear that meditating was fundamental. Kind of a no-brainer in the common sense department. It didn’t matter what religion I followed or not.
So, I tried and I tried and I tried. Persistence paid off.
It began in little ways. I’d take a verses from Thich Naht Hanh books and do walking meditations. I went to a Buddhist meditation center and did guided meditations. Oprah and Deepak were there too with their free 21-day meditation challenges.
It helped because I started with the basics and then refined my process. And, as I look back, these are the 5 key steps that made my practice a reality.
1. Intention – Hold a Heartfelt Wish
Early into my training as a coach, I noticed this interesting phenomena. Some people could intellectually get the change they wanted to make in their life yet they didn’t make progress. And, at the same time, I was changing lots of things in my life quickly.
It certainly wasn’t because I was special. I realized it was only that I literally took the changes I wanted to make into my heart. I finally got out of my head.
So, the most powerful thing you can do is to ask yourself from your heart what does a meditation practice mean for you. Why is it important. Then, listen to your response. And, I mean literally asking and listening from your heart not your ears, not your head….just your heart.
Write your response down. I’d encourage you to spend a good 15-20 minutes exploring what you learned, writing out the benefits to you, and what fears or uneasiness you have about it. Check if this is the right time for you.
2. Attention – Make the Space and Time
Your intention coupled with your attention is a great recipe for building this new meditation habit. This means you’re willing to give yourself the space to make this happen. So, to keep your mind calm, it involves letting go of something else.
Perhaps, you can let go of 10-15 minutes a day of something that’s not working for you like worrying, negative self-talk, feeling overwhelmed. Maybe you can wake up in the morning going right into your meditation vs. sitting up and feeling bad or nervous about the day to come.
So, you’ve got a choice to make in terms of where you focus your attention and when. If you feel you can make the room, you’re ready to move on to the how of doing it.
3. Position – Get Physically Prepared
To meditate effectively, it’s important to be in a position that will keep you alert and focused. Find a quiet place where you feel comfortable. Decide if you want to do it sitting in a chair, on the floor with your legs crossed, whatever feels most comfortable.
I tend to wake up and immediately sit up in bed and do my meditation. I like to get cozy with my peace first thing in the morning. So, this is a completely personal thing.
Try a practice run. Relax your eyes, your face, your shoulders, your whole body. Make sure your back is straight. You can close your eyes or keep them slightly open with a little bit of light to keep you alert. Put your hands in your lap and put your right hand over your left with your thumbs touching. Get familiar with this position.
4. Content – Choose a Focus for your Daily Practice
Knowing what you will focus on in your meditation session is essential. Meditation is about concentrating on virtuous object like patience, love, giving, kindness, compassion. Doing this, allows you to strengthen these positive states of mind.
I follow a Tibetan Buddhist practice of doing Lamrim which is a series of 21 meditations. So, it makes it easy for me because I’ve got things laid out every day. And, I know important go-to objects when a specific negative mind arises.
I’d encourage you to think about the positive states of mind you want to develop. List them out. There are many books from different religious and non-religious sources you can pull from. Make a small plan for yourself.
Say patience, love, wisdom, and equanimity are important minds for you. You could focus on each one of these for a week each so you’d have a plan for a whole month. And, you can even make it simpler if you want to do just a simple breathing meditation to make your mind calm.
5. Process – Go with a Flow
No matter if your meditation is 5, 10, or 45 minutes, it helps to have a set process for moving through it.
Below are a few helpful guidelines.
- Go to a quiet place (highly recommend not playing music)
- Find a comfortable physical position as detailed above
- Start with at least a minute of focusing on your breath to clear your mind
- Recall the focus for your session – the positive mind you want to develop
- Contemplate the benefits and disadvantages of holding this mind
- Feel from your heart the positive feeling from that mind – stay with that
- Dedicate the positive energy you created from doing this to people you love
With a good intention, there’s no way you won’t benefit from the above. You can’t mess up even if your mind wanders 95% of the time. Just bring it back. It’s totally normal for that to happen. Remember the quality of the experience is more important than the time spent.
I’ll tell you an important secret.
Without a meditation practice, I’d lose the calm I’ve cultivated. It’s the number one reason I can walk around with an easy mind and not a busy, stressed-out one. It’s like a dear friend always there to help me when uneasy feelings come.
Without a daily meditation practice, I’d slip back into an ordinary view of life.
Taking these five steps will move you right into a meditation practice. If your positive intention is strong to do this, it will be the energy you need to carry you through. Your mind will become calmer and you’ll feel more in control to handle your uneasy feelings.
If you’ve got questions or specific things you want to share about creating your practice, please share in the comments. I’d love to see and share what I know – process, content, whatever. Get the positive energy flowing!
And, please share with any friends looking for ways to manage the every day ups and downs of a busy life.