We’ve all been told that meditation works, we’ve heard about the vast benefits from scientists, neuro-scientists, and new age gurus. You’ve probably read and heard a fair deal about it from me, right here on this blog!
But does knowing it works make it easier to adopt a regular practice?
We’re in the age of instant gratification, where we can multitask with 10 tabs open at once, Zoom into a work meeting, scroll mindlessly through social media, and browse an entire online store while picking the next Netflix show. . All of these have serious implications for our attention span, our ability to daydream, and our motivation to meditate.
If the promise of happiness comes in the form of millions of apps, online streaming platforms, and online ordering, why bother devoting our time to worrying our minds? A dopamine high comes much more easily at the click of a button, right?
This is something I think about a lot, and I believe the question we need to ask ourselves is this:
What kind of life experience do you want to have?
We know that we are more than our human bodies. We know that we are having a soul experience during our life on Earth. Don’t you want to tap into that innate power within? The power that defines your very existence? I’m not saying you can’t enjoy all the modern gadgets and devices of our world, but guess what has been around a lot longer than the Internet? Meditation has been a part of human life for millennia for a reason. It’s a skill that anyone can have, and that’s an incredible gift.
Practicing meditation daily is like learning and improving any new skill. I admit that it can be very easy to get frustrated, lose patience, and give up. It’s the same as committing to going for a morning run, a gym class, or learning a new language or instrument. It’s like developing a creative practice that you come back to again and again.
You are not alone in your frustration. And it doesn’t mean that just because you enjoy it, you keep doing it. Sometimes it can feel like work. Another chore to get into, a task to cross off your to-do list. If you feel that way, STOP. Don’t give up, but don’t keep dragging around the guilt of not meditating that day or in a week or whatever.
Consider the following tips to help you stick with meditation instead of waving the white flag on it forever.
Find another Focus
Meditation is about focus and being present. If you haven’t meditated in a while and you’re feeling bad about it, try switching meditation to another activity that requires focus. Make the decision to turn off your phone for just 5 minutes. Just sit and listen to the sounds you hear around you. Maybe it’s the sound of the wind in the trees or maybe it’s your neighbors shouting, traffic noise, or a cement mixer. It can be annoying or it can be beautiful, just listen to it all the same. You don’t have to do anything else but sit and listen to what you hear. For 5 full minutes. See how it feels to not be distracted in this way and note any changes in the mind that come from this practice.
Use Sensory Stimulation
You can use your senses to ground yourself in the present moment. Think about taking a walk outside in nature, taking a warm bath with essential oils or detoxifying salts, or getting a massage. You can even use a therapeutic touch through self-massage with warm essential oils. Choosing to stimulate your senses is a really nice way to bring you into the moment. Just a few minutes a day will bring your body and mind into a synchronous state, which is one of the end results of a great meditation session.
Become Absorbed In A Task
Cooking, gardening, painting, or even cleaning are great mundane tasks in the present moment that can take our attention away from our problems and give us the same quality of focus that found in meditation. Choose your favorite pastime and set aside half an hour to be really absorbed and engaged in it. If you are gardening, maybe repot some plants or prune some flowers. If you want to bake something, give it your full attention, immerse yourself in the reality of the moment as you measure the flour and mix the sugar. This kind of concentrated focus can be a shortcut to a meditative state of mind, one that is more centered and aware.
If all of the above fails, stop for a minute, and breathe deeply. Feel the oxygen fill your lungs and leave your body in a steady rhythm. Keep your mind there as long as it feels possible.
Once you do these small tasks more often, you may find that the next time you sit down to meditate, it will feel a little easier. You remember how you were able to focus on those sounds, or that gardening task or how the nature of your walk made you feel connected to the Universe.
The practice of meditation is not about striving to achieve something, it is nothing more than a state of awareness of the present moment.
We tend to think that our minds are so loud and full of jokes that we don’t know how to silence them. Why not think this way instead? They are already quiet.
Our minds are inherently quiet, we create and bring about the noise ourselves. And that’s good, no one except maybe some truly Zen master can quiet their mind all the time.
Life is about noise and emotions, it is about being moved by different experiences like ripples on a pond in a wind. Meditation is not about stopping those ripples, but it is about learning that that is what they are. They don’t have to be all we see. There is something on the other side of them.
A quiet power that we can understand lives inside us all the time.
Trying these meditation alternatives can teach you to find the essence of what makes meditation so beneficial throughout your day in other ways. You will be able to experience the amazing benefits that come with just a few moments of focus each day.