When things start to feel like they’re spinning out of control, it can be helpful to take back something that’s 100% in your grasp. When you learn to meditate, you’re able to calm the metaphorical choppy waters and feel like a capable, responsible person again. But like anything, it takes some practice.
Learning to meditate doesn’t always come easily. I can remember the first time I sat to meditate, unguided, for five minutes. It felt like… A lot longer than five minutes. Every uncomfortable sensation felt magnified, like the itch behind my knee, or the single hair tickling my ear. I felt called to modify or move, but willed myself to stay still and just notice the sensations calling to me, working to distract me. This is the ego, and it will stop at nothing to distract you from your meditative practice.
Learn to Mediate, Learn to Notice
Learning to meditate is learning to notice things inwardly in the same relief that you notice the external things. You can probably easily describe what you see in front of you right now. But can you describe what you see when you close your eyes?
Taking the time to learn to meditate might feel counterproductive, or sound cumbersome, but it’s necessary to train your mind. I recommend three things when you’re starting out for the most success:
- Use a timer. This will help you gain discipline in your meditation, especially when you start out. You might thing that you’ve sat for 5 or 10 minutes, but that’s part of what needs to go when you start building a practice. What you feel doesn’t always align with what you know.
- Sit straight. The reasons for this seemingly arbitrary recommendation are many. Good posture is key to longterm health, which means that as you grow your practice, you’re less likely to make it a painful one (and therefore one that you will avoid). It’s also a way to keep yourself aware and not daydreaming or, if you choose to lay down, fall asleep.
- Breathe. This is obvious, right? You can’t help but breathe. But being really, truly present with your breath is rare. How does it feel on the inhale, on the exhale? Is it possible to engage all five senses in a breath? Do you feel your belly rise, or just your chest? How low can you drive your inhales and exhales?
In the near future, I’ll be adding some recordings to my meditation timer of choice, Insight Timer. Find me @megtallamegtalla!