Do you think meditation works?
If you just started meditating, have you wondered if you are meditating correctly?
Have you also wondered how you should sit when meditating, fit on the floor or cross-legged? Or can you meditate lying down?
How about your thoughts, should you not be thinking, or should you think about not thinking?
Is there a voice saying “breathe” or should there be total silence?
It doesn’t work
My first try on meditation was in 2012. I did that by trying to shut out thoughts from my mind and in a few days I gave up, telling everyone that it does not work.
The internet has too many different versions of meditation that nothing seemed reliable.
Recently, I got a few health scares and it hit me that I can’t die now.
I’ve not reached some of my goals and this is not the time for my body to give way.
Then I read this book, Becoming Supernatural by Dr Joe Dispenza.
It blew my mind!
Besides chronicling his method of meditation and success stories of his patients, Dr Joe Dispenza also explains deeper how we can transform ourselves from within if we take the time to master our inner selves.
In short, based on his research and practice, we can reprogram a specific part of our brains to work to our advantage.
This in turn will lead to self-control of the body’s condition, be it health, action and reaction.
There’s more work to be done than what I mention here, but this sounds like a great way to heal the mind and body rather than taking long-term medication.
That’s when I thought I probably should give meditation another try.
My meditation journey wasn’t easy.
It’s hard to sit still even for a few minutes, let alone plucking myself out of my day-to-day work routine to do something that doesn’t make me feel like I’m doing anything.
At the beginning I wasn’t consistent, I wasn’t regular. Some weeks I meditated once, sometimes more.
Building a habit
Make it so easy you can’t say no. — Leo Babauta
In Leo Babauta’s article The Four Habits that Form Habits, he said to establish a regular workout routine, start by doing just 3 pushups.
In other words, while you aim to hit 20 in a month’s time, you don’t start with 20. Start small and step up by time.
With this advise, I decided to meditate with this mindset.
This may seem like common sense and you must be thinking it’s a no-brainer.
I agree it’s simple.
But as a go-getter, I get impatient most of the time and the thought of doing something out of my comfort zone makes me feel like I am helpless and not moving forward.
If I need to feel like I’m progressing, doing something within my comfort zone helps me feel just that (though in reality I may not be moving the needle).
Furthermore, sitting down and not moving isn’t making me feel better, not at that instant.
I’m supposed to take action right!
The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself. — Mark Caine
To set up my environment for success, I started with HeadSpace, an app created by Andy Puddicombe.
In fact, I had the app stored in my phone for more than 6 months but haven’t been using it. Heck, I’ve even paid for a one year plan and didn’t do anything with it!
One day I finally took a 20 minutes break to browse the app.
In the app was a breath of fresh air.
Andy built it with great pieces of guided meditation packs from 1 minute to 20 minutes long.
There are also inbuilt notifications to remind you to take a pause in whatever you are doing to meditate.
The first thing I do was not to just use the app straightaway, but understand why I was doing this.
In my mind, I was aware that the reason is geared towards growing my business to bring freedom to my life and family.
It’s also geared towards my health, so that I stay calmer when I’m with my screaming kids and be present when I feel like it.
Next, I must be aware that though I want to master meditation, I am not aiming to meditate for too long at one shot in the first sitting.
Though my ultimate goal is to hit 20 minutes, 3 times a day, this goal is not a starting goal.
I understood that I may only be able to withstand sitting still in silence for less than 15 minutes each time for the first few weeks.
Make a plan and schedule the future
With that in mind, I started to write down a plan, working backwards:
If in 6 months time I am able to meditate 20 minutes 3 times a day, in 3 months time, I can meditate 10 minutes, 3 times a day.
In the next 1 month, I will meditate 10 minutes everyday.
I’ve scheduled these timelines for the future, all in my calendar and set the alerts to remind me to stop what I’m doing to meditate.
At first I gave myself an aim to meditate for 1 minute a day, but in 2 to 3 days, I stopped and did not get back to it.
Reflecting upon that, I realised 1 minute could be too easy, hence I increased that to 5 minutes and that worked well.
I felt accomplished even in such a short time! That tiny win gave me the affirmation and extra reason to continue the next day and another day.
I did that for a week and in the next week, I increased to 10 minutes a day.
Now I’m meditating for at least 10 minutes a day!
What have you learned?
The fundamental concept to master meditation is the same in mastering anything, or most things.
In conclusion, you can break it down in to three steps:
Set a goal that you aim to reach in say 3 months time and be aware of how big this goal is for you.
Example: 20 minutes may seem short to you while 10 minutes may seem long for me.
Break down this goal into your version of bite-sized portion. It can’t be too difficult yet not too easy where there’s no effort required.
Example, I broke my big goal down to start with 5 minutes a day.
Increase the goal portion size by time to increase the challenge. As the days go by, your meditation muscles get stronger, you will do better to sit in silence longer.
Example, starting with 5 minutes a day, I increased it to 10 minutes a day, then 10 minutes for 3 times a day and so on…
What else do you want to master?
For the most part, I’ve been using this technique to accomplish just about anything in my life and business now.
How about you?
What have you been doing to move forward?
Is there anything else you wish to learn?
Looking forward to your response.
Originally published on Medium.