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Sitting down pretending to be all ‘Zen’, hiding from your problems, procrastinating, imagining you’re some kind of spiritual guru…
I’ve heard people saying that about meditation and of course it can be true sometimes. But if you’ve practiced mindful meditation you’ll know how rewarding and powerful it is.
I first started meditating in 1996. When I first tried, it took months to realise I’d been doing it wrong. I’d been zoning-out and having an out-of-body experience. What I discovered is that meditation is about having an in-the-body experience. If you’re honest with yourself how many times do you enjoy or even notice the experience of being in the body? There’s a line from a book by James Joyce that characterises this, it reads “Mr Duffy lived a short distance from his body”. You know that feeling, right?
Meditation is practiced to purify the mind. Yet, imagine what might happen when you meditate and then spend the rest of your time harbouring negative emotions such as greed, hatred and jealousy. It’s likely that those emotions will manifest as judgment, lying, and craving, etc.
Meditation is already difficult and by harbouring negative thoughts or acting out your day in an unkind way you’ll only make it harder. You see when you meditate you have to sit with yourself and face the consequences of your actions.
If you’re feeling that your meditation practice is pointless, here are some ideas for you to think about:
There are dozens of ways to meditate, such as Vipassana where you begin by concentrating on the breath. There’s the repetition of mantra meditation. There’s Zazen sitting meditation, to name a few. Dive deeper by looking into different ways to meditate and find out what type of meditation works for you. Most practitioners advise starting off with the breath. That’s a good introduction, however you might find a deeper practice from another type of meditation.
Try bringing more mindfulness into your daily life, if you can do this you may catch yourself being negative, then you can start to investigate what triggers those negative emotions and do something about it.
Check your Expectations
Understand what meditation is. It’s not a quick fix or cure-all. It’s a practice. Which means it should be repeated regularly.
Sometimes it will be difficult. Try to investigate what problems arise during meditation and where they originate. Common difficulties in meditation are boredom, sleepiness, tenseness and chatter of the mind. All of these will have a root cause. Avoid dwelling on it during your meditation, simply name it and after you’ve finished see if you can track down what’s causing it. You might find the answer is simple or it may take years, however when you do find the answer it’ll likely help you in other areas of you life.
Set an intention that you’re going to meditate at a certain time and in a certain place. Having a routine and a space to practice will help you form a healthy habit. Pick a spot that’s quiet and that you feel comfortable in. Choose a time that works best for you, for example if you get sleepy before bed, you might find yourself struggling to stay awake, morning might be a better time for you.
A guided meditation can be helpful. You could try a class, or seek out a guided meditation online. If you’re not a spiritual person, or if hippies turn you off you could find Headspace more appealing.
Don’t give up because you think meditation isn’t working for you. I’ve had some profound moments during meditation, yet the majority of time the results are subtle which build slowly over time. If you’re a newcomer to meditation this can be frustrating, take your time. Each journey starts with the first step.
With the amount of interest in meditation in the mainstream you have a vast choice of options. Although that might seem good, there’re a lot of charlatans and new age fluff out there. Take your time to research the right kind of meditation for you. You meditation shouldn’t be pointless.
When you meditate you have to sit with yourself and face the consequences of your actions
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