How to Meditate

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meditating_monkMeditation is much simpler than you think.

You don’t have to “clear” your mind. You don’t have to “make” yourself be calm, or centered or spiritual. You don’t have to be a Buddhist or a Hindu. You don’t really even need a teacher.

What you do need is a willingness to do nothing for a little while.

Because the goal of meditation is to just be present with whatever situation presents itself. All you need to do is be right where you are, right now.

So here’s how you meditate.

Sit down somewhere, preferably in a quiet place. Breath in for five seconds, hold your breath for five seconds, and exhale for five seconds. The count doesn’t matter. It could be 4 seconds, or 7 seconds or 8 seconds. If that doesn’t work for you just breathe normally.

And if you get lost thinking about something else just come back. If you are daydreaming about some fantasy or worried about some problem just come back to what’s happening now. If you’re feeling impatient, just acknowledge to yourself that you are feeling impatient. If you’re irritated, know that you are irritated. If you’re knee hurts know that your knee hurts. If you can’t stop thinking about something, know that you are thinking.

Then just come back to the breath. That’s it.

Your first few meditation experiences may be completely unsatisfying. Don’t worry about that too much.

Just keep sitting down and doing nothing and you will slowly get better at it.

That’s meditation.

And last but not least you can use your technology to learn to meditate. Headspace is an app that makes meditation simple and help builds a strong habit.

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Mindful Eating is Good For Me and Probably Good For You Too

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I’ve been trying to eat mindfully this week.  That means while I’m eating I’m not checking my phone, staring at my Facebook feed, or zoning out on television.

It also means I’m actually trying to taste the food I am putting in my mouth.  I’m trying to finish one bite before I shovel another one into my face hole.   I’m trying to deliberately chew.

Guess what?  It’s really hard.  After I’ve prepared my meal and about to sit down I get a little compulsion to make sure I have something to entertain myself like my phone or ipad.  I have to fight the urge.

When I’ve been at long mindfulness meditation retreats eating mindfully is much easier.  After two weeks of meditating twelve hours a day eating becomes a very novel idea.  It was a huge highlight compared to the relative drudgery of watching the breath.

I’m going to stick with it through the week though.  When I sit down with my food I feel that twinge of anxiety and an urge to fill it with a mindless activity.  I know it doesn’t serve me or my body to eat while I’m in a state of stress.

So instead I breathe.  It feels good to breathe.  And then I eat my food.  I’m finding that my food tastes pretty good.

And it’s not nearly as bad as the little anxious man in my brain makes it out to be.  So this week I’m going to continue to eat mindfully.

I’ll save next week for being mindless, if I want to.

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