Why build a daily meditation practice?
Would you like a chance to slow down and get a glimpse of how your world is unfolding without taking time off work,going on a vacation or taking some “magic potion”?
Would you like to be able to put your “problems” in perspective without figuring out each detail and having a step by step plan?
Would you like a chance to improve your health without relying on expensive drugs?
How would you feel if you knew you could be calmer and not so upset when someone or something “pushes your buttons”?
You don’t need a saffron robe, a mountain top, a guru or an ideal time to start.
What can you do in 15 minutes? Prepare a quick meal, change your clothes, browse the headlines?
You could also stop doing stuff, sit in a quiet place, feel your breath and begin to watch your mind.
We take breathing for granted – it happens and we don’t have to think about it too much.
When you sit quietly and take notice of your breath, in and out, it helps you to stop thinking about anything else.
You may try and start to control the breath, deeper, slower, faster, but this gets you thinking again.
Why is my breath so uneven? If I could breathe more deeply surely this would be better for me?
The racing mind takes over again.
This is not just you – we all have racing minds.How could we not have given the competitive and often uncaring culture we live in?
Back to the breath – that phrase is very important.
Back to the breath when you wonder if you are breathing correctly.
Back to the breath when you begin to plan the meeting for next morning.
Back to the breath; when you wonder why your boss looked at you that way today.
That’s it –
Sit quietly,feel your breath,your thoughts will come,most times negative worries but sometimes positive planning–like a holiday next week!
You may not be able to see when the thought started that brought you away from feeling the breath.
Thoughts seem to just appear from nowhere and carry you away.
But just sitting calmly and watching the breath,noticing the thoughts carrying you away and then bringing yourself gently back to noticing the breath again is the practice that will let you see that you are not your thoughts.
Thoughts will bring you to the past – “I should never have taken that job, this is the reason I’m so broke now”.
You think – this is me “I am the looser who made that mistake”.
But ask yourself; is this “looser” you, now - right now?
Thoughts will bring you to the future – “I just know my contribution to the project will not be properly recognised”.
You think – “I’ll make sure I’m covered – they will leave me alone if they know I’m angry.”
But again ask yourself; is that angry person you, now – right now?
You may feel regret for the past and anger for the future,but right now you can come back to your breath and be the real you with all the enormous potential available to a human being.
The practice of sitting to meditate, bringing your attention away from your racing thoughts and back to the breath, should not be seen as isolated from your everyday life.
It could be seen as quiet time for yourself where, for a little while, you forget your worries and charge your batteries to help tackle your problems.
But the practice of daily meditation is much more than that.
Watching your racing thoughts and seeing them as just mind stuff helps you to detach from them.
Now you will have found a place where you can make decisions not out of reaction but from a deeper, more mindful, appreciation of what is happening now.
You will be detaching from the ego, from that false creation of you, based on the past and a particular perception of the future, and beginning to realize your true potential.
Continuous practice, with the sure knowledge that it is not an isolated exercise, but something that you can bring to your everyday life will break the cycle of the past dictating the future.
There are many ways of bringing the practice into everyday situations.
Next time, even in a busy work situation, when you are having a cup of coffee bring your attention to the actions of drinking the coffee.
Lift the cup, hear the interruption from your colleague, but don’t react to it.
Keep your attention on drinking the coffee - lifting the cup, drinking, putting the cup down.
You didn’t ignore the interruption; you heard it but did not react to it or get attached to it.
When the cup is down, now put your attention to what your colleague said.
Give your answer your full attention – this is also practice.
By committing to a continuous practice, 10 – 15 minutes each day, you can build a calmer, more focused even healthier you.
For a long time meditation may have been seen as something for the few, a kind of new age magic for which you would
need to study and practice full time for years to achieve any benefit.
But there now is a mountain of medical and scientific research that shows there are many benefits from meditation that don’t take a lifetime to achieve.
And this is great because in some ways this makes it easier to overcome scepticism about it.
Meditation will break this kind of unconscious cycle; it is natural and available to us all.
Daily Meditation is a practical way of making you a calmer person.
See Andy Puddicombe's TED presentation on how to practice meditation: