“Next up is twenty minutes of meditation. A practice that has completely transformed my life, I could write an entire book on the subject. But suffice it say meditation has become an essential component in my success equation. An exercise in quieting the chatter of the monkey mind, it root me in consciousness. It’s a practice that has allowed me to be more present in my life, less reactive to my surroundings, and more mindful of my path an priorities.” – Rich Roll in his book Finding Ultra
If you’ve read one of my older blogs, “Getting Still,” this is pretty much Getting Still 2.0. This is going to be a step by step, “how to” blog, on meditation. If you’re not interested stop reading this right. . . now. Still there? If you are reading this then you probably already know where I stand on meditation. And if you don’t, probably for the best otherwise you’d be sick of hearing me talk about this again.
There are numerous ways to meditate so if this doesn’t line up with you, modify how ever needed. This is just my personal practice.
Side note: Any of the bullets that include an asterisk (*) are optional and might be better suited for when you have a cemented practice. I want to give you the bear minimum that will get you started.
So that’s it. Lets make this as simple as we can.
1. Find a quiet room or area where no one/nothing is going to bother you for that time that you set a side for meditation. * Down the road, ultimately it shouldn’t matter if there was construction going on outside your window, you should still be able to meditate.
2. Sit in a comfortable position with your back completely straight. You don’t have to cross your legs to meditate. You can if you want but don’t fall for the trap that without a crossed legged meditation practice, you won’t reach “enlightenment.” As long as you’re comfortable, your back is straight, and you’re not laying down, you’re good to go. * In my current practice I keep a pillow behind my lower back as it keeps the rest of my back upright, but also unsupported. This helps by keeping you more alert, and away from drifting in and out of sleep. It will also help shape your posture into that of a greek gods alongside allowing deeper breaths into the diaphragm.
3. Put your hands wherever is comfortable for you. I keep both hands open with the palms face down on each knee.
4.You can keep your eyes open or closed. I always keep my eyes closed. Some people keep them open and concentrate on one particular spot. Whatever works for you.
5. Shift your weight from left to right, front to back, until you feel completely centered like your spine is in alignment.
6. Now we move onto breathing. I take six slow deep breaths into my stomach to start every meditation. No exception. In a Japanese study, it’s been shown that it only takes six deep breaths to calm the nervous system. If my mind wanders before I make it to number six, I start all over from again.
7* This is semi-new to my practice and totally optional, but this is almost always included with every session I do. Incorporating loving kindness. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you can head over to “Going Johnny Deep.” So what I do is pick the first two people who come to mind. It can anyone from your partner, to the guy who pumped your gas earlier that day, to someone you hate. Especially someone you hate. And all I do is envision them sitting right in front of me and go through my loving kindness mantras:
“May you be free from suffering”
“May you be free from internal and external pain”
“May you be happy”
“May you be healthy”
“May you always choose love over fear”
I will say that it can get a little redundant which in return waters down the practice. For that reason I always try to be as sincere as I can while I say the mantras and after I get through them, I genuinely wish the personal well in my own words with whatever comes to my mind at the time.
After I’ve gone through the mantras a few times on both people, I take the time to do it for myself. This part is crucial. I usually go back to specific traumatic events throughout my life and envision me talking to that version of myself. It can be a traumatic experience from when I was seven that still sticks with me to this day, to the me of a week ago that did something I did’t like to a friend of family member, to the me of right now. Forgive yourself, don’t judge yourself for those mistakes––but this also isn’t a hall pass to continue to be a dick, let yourself know that everything is going to be all right, and accept yourself how ever much is possible. Even if you feel like you only deserve 40% of love, work from there.
8. Moving on. However, you might find that you won’t even be able to make it this far because there were too many times that your mind started to wander and before you know it, your twenty minutes has passed and you feel like you got absolutely nowhere. That is completely fine and I’m going to address it right meow.
9. For the purpose of this blog, I’m only going to talk about Vipassana or mindfulness based meditation. We’re going to pick an anchor––your point of concentration. For me it’s the breath and where I feel the breath––deep in the stomach or right on the rim of my nostril. For you it might be the steady hum of a particular noise, or a certain sensation. Whatever it is, any time you’ve caught your mind wandering––which will happen more times than you’d like it too––bring your attention back to your anchor.
Let me stress how important this is. Meditation isn’t trying to clear your mind of all thoughts, it’s that noticing of the mind wandering and bringing it back to your anchor. As Dan Harris likes to say, “It’s like a bicep curl for the brain.” Every time you catch the mind wandering while bringing your attention back to the breath, it’s like a glitch in the matrix that interrupts unconscious behavior.
But I’ve tried meditation before and it didn’t work.
People think they can meditate for a week and get outstanding results. It won’t happen. Think of the last time you tried anything for your first time. Call me crazy, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that you were complete trash. Just like anything, this is going to take time to see results.
10. Lastly if you give this a shot, be consecutive for twenty one days. If you miss a day start back at day one. I’m telling you meditation will absolutely change your life if you give it a honest chance. Do yourself this favor.
When you start, start small. I’m going to give you a rough twenty one day outline to get the ball rolling in your favor, but feel free to approach this however you would like.
Every day, use a timer.
Day 1: Sit in a chair for one full minute with your eyes closed sitting however you’d like.
Day 2: Sit in a chair for three full minutes with your eyes closed sitting however you’d like. Don’t try any of the steps. If your lost in thought for those three minutes, that’s fine.
Day 3: Go through steps 1-4 for five full minutes.
Day 4: Go through steps 1-4 for six full minutes.
Day 5: Go through steps 1-5 for seven full minutes.
Day 6: Go through steps 1-6 for eight full minutes.
Day 7: Go through steps 1-6 for ten full minutes.
Days 8-14: Go through steps 1-10 for ten full minutes. Exclude step 7 for right now.
Days 15-20: Go through steps 1-10 for fifteen full minutes excluding step 7.
Day 21: Go through steps 1-10 for twenty minutes adding step 7.
* There are apps like Headspace, Calm, 10% Happier, that all have guided meditations which might be an easier place to start. Also some of my favorites come from the Tara Brach Podcast. Best of luck, amigos.