Why do you want to meditate?
Meditation practice isn’t easy. It goes against the grain of our habitual patterns. So it is very important to be clear with yourself: why do you want to sit still, doing nothing?
You might find that you have certain reasons for learning to meditate, and then each day when you practice, your motivation might be different. But start each session by checking in with yourself: why am I doing this?
The deeper the motivation, the better.
For example, I want to remember to appreciate that I’m alive, because I will die someday, and I don’t know when. I want to appreciate being alive. I want to dive below the surface of my mind and heart.
Most of our thinking is superficial.
No wonder we’re tired at the end of the day. We’re constantly keeping stories going in our minds. It’s the same old patterns adorned with the latest circumstances. For instance, an old pattern may be that I worry. Well, today I worry about what someone might have thought about me in a conversation we had yesterday. Tomorrow that worry may have a new story, but it’s the same old worry.
Superficial stories are exhausting because there are endless ways to worry, or be afraid, or angry, or envious, or bored.
When we become really aware of hanging on to superficial stories day after day, it causes us to be curious about something deeper. It makes us long for a deeper connection. We know that greater clarity and perspective and joy are possible. We can taste it.
What is thrilling is that contentment, joy and compassion are possible within our crazy, scary everyday life.
A tamed mind is a path to connection.
Whatever motivation is deepest for you, the path to connection is aided by a mind that is stable, clear, and strong. A tamed mind doesn’t overreact to every superficial story, every little thing. It doesn’t take every thought personally. Meditation tames the mind, allowing its natural stability, clarity, and strength to emerge.
Connection is an open heart–vulnerable, willing to touch painful moments and be torn open by them, to discover an even deeper sense of our own sanity. When we’ve tamed our minds, we can discover within ourselves the courage and bravery to step through the current challenge and feel even more alive.
So why do you meditate?
What is your longing for connection? What aspect of your better self do you want to cultivate? Put it in your own words. Think about how a stable mind can enhance your everyday life. Just flash on your motivation briefly, let it touch your heart, before you begin to meditate.
Just a few reminders about the technique of mindfulness meditation. Sit in an upright posture. Gently become aware of the breath. Place your mind on the breath as your connection to what’s happening in the present. Notice thoughts come up, acknowledge them without struggle, and with the attitude of “there’s time to think about that later,” return to the breath.
Notice any sense of struggling with yourself, and gently return to the breath. You will get hooked by the stories in your mind. You’ll forget about the breath entirely. Don’t judge your busy mind. Notice the craziness, and with the gentleness of holding something precious, return to the breath, which is always the present moment.
When you get used to the practice, you’ll be able to let go of the thought and touch in with what’s underneath. When that happens, just feel what arises. Be aware of the texture and flavor of the moment. Don’t try to get rid of it or analyze it. Return to the breath, knowing that you are tasting your precious life.
Do this for 10 minutes a day for the rest of your life.
Set a small goal that’s reasonable for yourself. For the next week, can you meet yourself for 10 minutes a day? Can you briefly walk away from your activities and preoccupations and just be? It’s hard sometimes. Often. Notice your resistance, walk through it, renew your commitment to yourself. Then sit.
Invite your mind to settle.
It will settle–maybe not the first day or even the first week. Be patient. Every day, invite yourself into the present. Eventually your entire being will show up.
It may seem both completely ordinary as well as extraordinary.