When you are constantly worrying about the future or fretting about the past, it’s easy to miss out on the present. And we spend a lot of our mental energy thinking about the past and the future – things that we have no power to change. A daily practice of bringing your attention to the present moment through meditation can bring clarity, happiness, and power. And you don’t need to escape to a monastery or mountaintop to get it.
If you’ve never practiced meditation before, it might get a little crazy. The moment you sit quietly, it will probably feel like a million thoughts come crashing in on you at once. That’s perfectly normal. Surprise! The thoughts aren’t new – they were there all the time! You’ve just been so distracted that you barely noticed them.
Your job is to sit quietly, breathe normally, count your breaths, and watch, without judgment, the thoughts as they pass. Your job is just not to follow any of them. Simply count your breathing. It’s kind of like sitting at the side of a busy road watching traffic. You can’t stop the cars from passing, but you don’t have to get in if one pulls over! No rides from strangers!
Here are the basics on meditation:
- Find a quiet place with as few distractions as possible.
- Place a chair facing the wall (you can sit cross-legged on the floor if you want, but keeping an upright posture is much easier in a chair).
- Face the wall and focus on a single point. You can even draw a dot on the wall with a pencil if it helps.
- Breathe in and out through your nose. In is 1, out is 2. Count to 10 and start over again.
- Pay attention to the thoughts and images that show up, and let them pass.
- Keep your focus on your breath and the spot in front of you.
It’s natural to get frustrated with meditation if you think that you are supposed to have a quiet mind. That’s not the aim. You will never have a quiet mind. The aim is to sit calmly in the present, in the presence of your own thoughts. Don’t worry if you lose count or if you drift off. As soon as you find you have, bring your focus back to your breathing and start counting again from 1.
One of your opportunities during the Whole Life Challenge is to take a few minutes out of each day to get to know yourself a little better through meditation. It’s easy to think we know ourselves completely. Take some time to turn your attention inward and you may find out some things you didn’t know.
Enjoy your meditation practice! We encourage you to keep this up, even if just for a few minutes each day, so don’t worry about mastering it right away. You have lots of time to practice!