The first thing you want to know is what is your purpose? What is your motivation? Just as there are different types of Yoga, there are different types of meditation. I first experimented with meditation in 2004 when I was 21 and living in Germany. My speech-language partner, someone I met up with weekly so he could practice his English with me and I could work on my German (no, we did not date), talked about Ayurvedic Medicine and the aspects of it so much that I decided to try it out. I’m pretty sure I did no research on it and for some reason he was not able to explain to me exactly how to do it. So I just started a daily practice of sitting and trying not to think of anything for 10 minutes, half of which were me peaking at the clock. Does this sound familiar to anyone? It did seem to bring a degree of calm to my experience of attending University in a foreign country and mostly foreign language. I admit signing up for a German for Foreigners course as well as English literature (with 2 other Americans I might add) helped with the Angst some as well.
If your goal is just to bring some calm into your day, simple breath techniques might be a good option. You can check some out in my Breath for Healing courses here. This is because truly meditating, getting to that point where you really are not just sitting mostly catching yourself thinking….I mean, on a good day you are catching yourself thinking…..is A LOT of work and dedication. This brings me to some other aspects of learning to meditate.
2. If you want to learn to meditate because you want superpowers – you know, the ability to manipulate energy, space, and time, it is going to REALLY take a lot of TIME and DEDICATION. When I say time, I mean 10 years, not 1. This is a Lifestyle and a Lifetime.
3. Dedication. It takes some serious dedication. If you really want to progress with your meditation practice you will at some point need consistency. People are habitual. Our minds are and our bodies are. This is a very beneficial tool of conserving energy. One of the best things you can do for your meditation practice is to dedicate yourself to doing it the same time everyday. For more people that is first thing in the morning when their mind is still relatively blank, or in the evening when they are ready to calm down. What are you going to do when you go to a weekend festival? How about when you get a new partner and you start staying over at their place? Maybe you have friends out of town and when you visit everyone gets together in the morning to make breakfast and have coffee together. Things get complicated.
4. You change. Maybe you stop partying. You might come to the point where you give up alcohol, coffee, and smoking. This means you might lose friends. You don’t fit with “your people” in quite the same way anymore.
5. Your values might change. You’ll start holding yourself to a higher level of integrity. If you are successful, you become more aware of your unconscious conditioning. While it might be more enjoyable to have a petty response when you do not like what someone does, you start catching yourself and choose to behave differently. There can be an in-between phase where this is just frustrating; you are trying to be a better person but maybe not seeing the benefits yet.
6. Meditating does not intrinsically make someone a better person, just as being a nun doesn’t guarantee that person is all gentle light and love. Those who meditate are just as susceptible to their issues as everyone else. You might catch yourself going around acting like you are spiritually superior to everyone else just because you meditate. Ooops. There are many ways to get to the top of the mountain. Remember that and have a dose of humility.
7. Your life will change. Hopefully for the better. You’ll start seeing the world in a different way. You can still have bad days; you will still cry, get angry, and feel like everything is falling apart around you. You will also gain the broader perspective to appreciate the disasters, to see the rainbow in the storm, to feel as you are crying that you are letting go of something to make space for something better. You will recognize that grief is not as bad as you used to think it was; that it’s just another aspect of yourself expressing itself. It is part of the spectrum of being ALIVE, and you can become more accepting of it in yourself, as well as others.
These are the simple words of someone who has spent much of her savings training in meditating, and though it has not afforded her a four-bedroom house with a large yard and a new Yaris, she has found it worthwhile.