Meditation and mindfulness has the ability to change your life and should be taken as seriously as we do our health, fitness and what we consume in our daily diets. For meditation is what a gym membership is for your mind, and with regular practice we become less stressed, more energised and generally contented and happier.
Everyone who has tried meditation knows the wonderful benefits meditation has to offer, however to the same extent that we all know the Meditation Benefits we also may have realised how difficult it is to keep meditating on a regular basis, even for those of you, like myself, who have had more experience in meditating than others.
I had been meditating for many years as a lay person before I became a Buddhist monk, and even as a Buddhist monk spending hours and hours meditating everyday during the allotted morning and evening sessions, I could on many occasion watch myself avoid meditating during the day, instead searching out some form of distraction. After a while I found four things to be almost essential in keeping me enthused and motivated to meditate, and I would like to share them with you.
The first important lesson with meditation is to be kind towards yourself at all times. This means that inner dialogue you have with yourself, be kind, don’t scold yourself or be harsh, be kind. Everyone’s mind wanders when we first start to meditate, some of us more frequently than others, every time you notice your mind somewhere else, gently and kindly bring it back to the breath. This also includes the times when you promise to meditate but forget, don’t be harsh, be kind, a chuckle and a smile will work a thousand time better than scolding. When you do remember, if you can, take a seat right there and then and follow the breath for just a few minutes.
The second most important lesson and essential to keeping meditation a part of our daily lives, meditation doesn’t and shouldn’t be just for sitting meditation, meditation can be practiced anywhere and at anytime, your daily commute to work, back of a taxi or meditate while brushing your teeth. This is a great article on the very same subject, entitled “how to make meditation part of your daily life“
The idea is to allow meditation into our life, everyday, everywhere, not just forcing ourselves to sit for a gruelling 1hr, this is an outdated Victorian school approach to meditation that doesn’t and won’t work. As Ajahn Chah used to say
“If meditation was all about sitting for long periods of time, all chickens would be enlightened”
The third piece of essential advice is to practice with others. Meditation is a very personal journey and experience, but meditating with a group of people who meet regularly helps a great deal. However some caution must be exercised, while the regularity of the meditation group is of great benefit, the people can become a great distraction. Try not to spend time in idal gossip on your meditation practice, this leads to feelings of grandeur or inferiority and both won’t be good for your practice.
Even as a Buddhist monk in a monastery environment where everyone is supposed to be there in the seeking of enlightenment, there were large ego’s competing, superstitions that led to misunderstandings and feelings of pride over others or inferiority, we were always encouraged not to discuss our meditation practice, because every time someone did it led to either disappointment or pride, neither feelings are helpful too becoming calmer and more peaceful.
The fourth idea uses 21st century technology to give us the boost we sometimes need in the form of an App. There are some fantastic apps on the market, both free and paid for, the best Apps, in my opinion, have meditation timers that then record our progress showing us our progression with images of graphs and pie charts based on our statistics. This seems to work very well for western minds who have been schooled in this scientific method.
Equally for those of us that are a little older or prefer not to use technology in this way, then a simple note book or small diary can be used as a meditation schedule book that will serve just as well.
So if we are determined to make meditation a part of our daily lives and we are starting to use kindness towards ourselves and our inner dialogue, we have joined a group of like minded individuals who meditate regularly. We have the latest app downloaded on our smart phone and ready to go, then we stand a very good chance in succeeding.
Now there’s just one more little thing I want to share, for all those of you who have read this far, I’m going to tell you secret that will help you progress and keep meditating regularly.
As we progress in meditation and only after a short period of time we develop, quite naturally, something known as the watcher mind. That is to say your mind becomes used to observing and will naturally sit non judgmental and non discriminating just watching your thoughts and there karmic reactions. Meditation now becomes part of your everyday life and quite naturally.
Warning. At this point it doesn’t mean we can rest and stop our practice of sitting meditation on a regular basis, at this moment that the watcher mind develops, all those struggles from before will fade into distant memory, and we gently keep on the path, using our apps, schedules and kindness towards ourselves we keep practicing. Only now it becomes less of a struggle and more of a want and a delight to meditate.
Problems will arise, it is the nature of seeking happiness, to know suffering, and when they do may I suggest seeking out advice from Buddhist monks trained in the art of meditation, every monastery I’ve ever been to around the world always had someone I could talk too. Failing that approach, our Tips and Tricks Page to help you out with most of common issues faced with meditating. And also visit this website as often as you want, find inspiration form our Weekly Moral Short Stories, or find motivation in our quotes and words of wisdom from some of most enlightened. Or alternatively use the Contact Form and I will endeavour to do my best and answer your questions or just be an ear to listen.
I spent a long period of my life as a Buddhist monk learning about myself and consciousness, I have spent thousands of hours in meditation learning first hand meditation techniques from enlightened meditation masters. The thousand and thousands of mosquito bites I received on my bald head as a monk, were not in vain. It has taken almost six years after leaving my monastery in North Thailand for my meditation practice and training to come to full bloom, just as my Abbott had predicted, and it is now, at this point in my life I wish to give back, freely, the awesome experience I’ve had exploring our human consciousness with mindfulness and meditation.