The first time I sat down to meditate I was 20 years old. I had no idea what to expect since, at the time, I did not know much about meditation.
What drew me to this practice initially were pictures of Buddhist monks in seated meditation. There was a stillness that came through in those images, and that was exactly what I was after.
I couldn’t imagine myself ever being so quietly content. In spite of my not knowing what on earth I was doing, I sat anyway.
This, I learned, is the biggest hurdle in having a meditation practice - starting. There is something so intimidating about being asked to sit still. There is a visceral avoidance of stillness that we all feel moment to moment.
So, in order to begin your meditation practice, there is some overcoming to do. Overcoming the anxiety of not moving or doing. Overcoming a need of control and aversion to surrender. Overcoming the fear of what lives in the stillness of our bodies. Starting is a feat unto itself.
Soon I learned that I needed a little guidance to see that I was on the right track.
Meditation is sort of mysterious and abstract. If you are not certain what you should be doing or feeling, then you will likely quit early on in the game.
The next step is just getting the hang of it. There is nothing more open and raw and freeing than being present in all that is unfolding at this very second. It can also be very boring! But you will never know all of this if you don’t get some guidance.
A teacher is a good place to start. If that is not available there are loads of books and recordings on the subject. These learning materials are great to refer to and add more insight into an already existing practice as well.
Now all you have to do is make it a habit and you’re good to go! Easier said than done, right?
The key to success with this is knowing that every time you sit down to meditate you are always going back to square one!
There will likely always be that anxiety of not doing. There may always be some lurking fear of the unknown. And you might always have to overcome that tugging feeling of avoidance...but you sit anyway.
Often times it is suggested that you should meditate in the same place at the same time of day. Surely this is a way of establishing a routine, but it might also become an excuse to put it off for another time. My advice is to sit anytime you can. If you’re bored, or have 5 or 10 minutes to kill why not.
At your kitchen table, at the edge of your bed, while you're waiting in your car, any of these can become your meditation spot on the fly.
Give yourself the best chance at success by starting your practice and getting the hang of what you are doing. Then just start all over again every single day. Every time you sit is new beginning.