Step 2: Starting Out & Understanding The Process
What you're really seeking right now is probably a way to "clear your mind" or "focus your intention."
Maybe you heard that meditation will make you rich, successful, happy!
I'm here to tell you...
It might! And it might not.
But what it definitely, mega-surely, extra-specially will do...
Is create a strong calm and deep resilience within you so you can do WHATEVER YOU WANT with yourself and your life. Make it abundantly success-filled fun, if you'd like.
You've gotta first begin with the actual process. Here's how you're gonna do it!
You'll need to pick:
- A time of day, and stick with it for one week.
- A reasonable amount of time you want to sit for each time you come to the cushion. 1 minute is not unreasonable, but I've got way more faith in you. Why don't you start with 5 minutes if you're brand new? 10 minutes if you're a dabbler. And 15 minutes if you're serious and dedicated about this practice in your life!
- A guided meditation, gentle music or silence.
You should have a good idea of the setup you want and need to work with starting out. So now, it's simply time to set that timer and get quiet!
You can begin by focusing on your breath, regardless of whether or not yours is a silent practice. Your breath is your anchor and guide, as you'll hear in the bonus video I've included here.
As you sit in the quiet & stillness, simply allow yourself to notice what comes up in your mind. When I first began a practice, my mind was racing. "I should be studying right now." I'd think to myself. "Why am I wasting time doing nothing?"
The thing is though, you AREN'T doing nothing. You are doing so much, I promise you.
I think of meditation as a process of sifting through the thoughts, feelings, experiences, and memories of your life.
Imagine sifting through sand to find something of value. The sand that falls away is like the many thoughts of the day. The little things that don't really matter, but are still there.
Then, there are bigger pieces of earth or stone or whatever left inside whatever you call the contraption you use to sift anything. It's up to you to look at each thing, and determine its worth or value, and whether or not you'll keep it or let it go.
These bigger things are the larger experiences you haven't processed, and which you always go back to thinking about when your friend time or boredom appears. They could little or big arguments, feelings like jealousy around a dear friend that we just can't shake, a dream or desire you've had for years. Maybe you return to an episode in middle school where you were really terrible to someone, and guilt eats at you. Or a time when someone else was really terrible to you and grief surfaces over and over again. These larger experiences may even be traumas big or small, but I don't want that to scare you from starting a practice. Just be aware, these larger things will be what sit in front of us for contemplation at some point, if we allow the sand to fall.
And finally, since we're talking about sifting through sand, let's talk about what we're searching for. If I were on a beach looking for something, that something would be treasure. Maybe treasure is beautiful dried-up sea stars, or special shells or rocks. Maybe it's trash that I want to throw away because I'm on a mission to save the environment. Maybe it's anything that was made by humans, like old lost keys.
In meditation, the treasures that will surface through your process are: realizations, deep calm, epic moments of feeling a buzzy connection to all that is, healing breakthroughs when you've finally processed or understood something that happened to you or that you did in your life, and even reaching emotional milestones like forgiveness, empathy, and grace.
Now that you have some analogies to work with, go and sit. With your quiet. With your thoughts that will come in. With your feelings, which will definitely come in if you sit long enough. And sit through the waves of experiences, and watch the treasures rising up within you.