Meditation: Crawl Before You Walk

February 21, 2019

A brightly colored abstract painting with various light colors.

There are a lot of resources out there to help you get started with meditation. While they all try to be as helpful as possible, there are a few super-simple tricks to kick-start your meditation practice that are rarely discussed.

Start Small

How small? One to two minutes at first, once per day.

Starting something new is always hard, and the difficulty only increases when you start something new at the volume and intensity of someone who’s been doing that thing for a long time. That compounding difficulty makes it more likely to discourage you from continuing.

So why isn’t this a more widely discussed meditation trick? I think the side effect of having very experienced people try to teach you anything. Sure, they’ll be able to help you with the basics, like how to sit, the environment you should be in, how to begin and end. The problem? They’re so far removed from a beginner’s place that they don’t even remember what it was like when they first started.

A brightly colored abstract painting with various light colors.

“Origins” by Preston Smith

Suggesting a new person start with ten minutes of meditation isn’t that far off from suggesting they start with ten hours. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, frustrated, and give up, concluding “it’s just not for me” when that couldn’t be further from the truth. Maybe you just have the wrong initial setup and expectations.

Start with a very short session, acknowledging that starting small is the smart thing to do, and then enjoy a very brief meditation session.

I remember when I started to mediate, sitting still for ten minutes was a huge struggle and to be honest, I simply didn’t enjoy doing it. So doing some deeper research the quote “walk before you can run” came to mind and it very much helped me find my own pace when it came to starting mediation.

More Helpful Tips

  1. If you start small, make that small meditation into a daily habit. While a short and small meditation session starting point makes it easier to grow your sessions longer and longer, doing it every day makes you more likely to stick with it. Even if it feels hard at first, meditating daily makes it more likely to become a habit that sticks.
  2. Meditate in the same setting and at the same time every day. Meditating in the same context each and every day will make it more likely to be a habit that sticks. Two very common times and situations are first thing in the morning right after you wake up or right before you leave the house to go to work or start your day.
  3. Picking a similar time, place, or situation each and every day makes it a ritual that you’ll be less likely to forget or skip.
  4. When you increase your meditation time, make those increases very small. Maybe after a full week of two-minute meditations, you’ll want to add a few minutes to your routine.
  5. But even as you add time to your daily meditation, keep it small. Go from two minutes to four minutes. Then, after a solid week, you can bump it up from four to six minutes. Small increases operate on the same principle of small starts: not overwhelming yourself.
  6. Take a long-term view. I love all the 30-day challenge programs out there, designed to help motivate people to try something new. But look at this as a skill to practice and build for a long time to come. And since the more days you practice meditation the more you benefit from it, taking a long-term view will lead to more and more benefits from the practice.

So, if you’ve never done it before, try it with me now. Find a quiet place to sit comfortably, with your back upright, your eyes closed, and using either a timer or a guided meditation, try to focus on your breath for the next two minutes.

Starting small will do you a world of good.

Practice, Practice, Practice

This is very much similar to starting small and goes hand in hand with that. Like anything, practice makes perfect. Make sure to carve out a time each and every day to practice. You’ll hopefully find all your practice totally worth it as meditation can be life-changing!

Focus On Your Breathing

Focusing on your breathing doesn’t just make mediation more effective, it is also a good way to keep your concentration and keep you in the zone. When breathing try and take deep, controlled, breaths and feel your breath move from your lungs and out through your nostrils or your throat.

Become Present

For me this was the main reason I took up meditation: to stop and be present in the moment. We become so used to moving through our days without paying attention and mediation is a good way of drawing our awareness back.


Discussion


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