Thirty-five years ago, the idea of daily meditation seemed foreign to us. But today, it’s a normal part of our daily schedule, even if it means getting up thirty minutes earlier or skipping TV to do so. |
People of all walks of life practice meditation now, unlike in the past when it was mainly for stereotypical radical spiritual devotees.
The scientifically documented health benefits may surprise you: improves regulation of emotions; decreases depression, inflammation, and stress; improves brain health and memory; increases peace of mind; releases a natural, healthy, feel-good brain opiate, and much more.
Three ascertainable stages exist in committing yourself to regular meditation. First, you wonder if you’re doing it right because nothing seems to happen. Next, you notice subtle changes in your perception of yourself and your life and you realize there’s really something to it. In the third stage you find the regular habit of meditation includes all the benefits listed above and it becomes as normal as going to bed and waking up in the morning. There’s no reluctance to do it, like you encounter in the first stage--you just do it to get your daily feel-good fix.
Don’t worry if you’re struggling to get past the first stage. Maintain discipline and you’ll eventually get the hang of it.
To the skeptics, we understand your cynicism because we’ve been there, but the science behind it is so overwhelming that we urge you to consider it.
In some cases, entering the second stage can be scary; don’t worry, you won’t become a vacant-minded zombie. Instead, you’ll learn to disengage from daily mind-dramas and monkey mind. Have you ever walked along a beach and the waves lulled you into a peaceful state of mind? That’s the feeling you can generate on a daily basis, anywhere--all you need is a little discipline.
We list five tips below to help you get started, or to go deeper if you’ve already started.
1. Keep in mind that meditation is best approached as a long-term discipline. You may feel at first that you’re just going through the motions. But if you stay the course, you’ll reach a point where you’ll know exactly when you’re (easily) entering a meditative state of mind. It may take you weeks or even months, but you will get there if you continue.
2. Drop your expectations. The reason that nothing seems to be happening at first is that nothing is supposed to happen, in a manner of speaking. The practice involves detaching from your mind, so of course it’ll seem like nothing is happening because you’re used to mind-chatter all the time.
3. Expect your subconscious mind to rebel, as it can do with major changes in your life. Your collective subconscious (fears and defenses) may react while you are attempting to detach from it, so recognize the ever-so creative impressions (e.g., an itch or “you forgot to turn off your oven”) generated by it to resist your efforts.
4. To avoid falling asleep in this discipline, get enough sleep and sit upright instead of lying down because your mind is conditioned to sleep lying laying down. You’ll find with practice that you’ll feel refreshed after meditation. Scientific studies have found that the process of meditation actually replicates many of the benefits of sleep, so you may need less sleep. In our long-term experience, waking up thirty minutes earlier for a meditation session before a busy day doesn’t seem like losing sleep due to the natural health benefits.
5. Sit comfortably (you don’t have to sit like a yogi), close your eyes, breathe deeply, and focus on your chest-plate (or third eye). You can also try laying your arms away from your sides and focus on letting all stress drain away. Or pretend you’re facing a wall of rock while mountain climbing, where your intense focus is vital. That’s all there is to it, along with the discipline to avoid quitting. Other helpful tips include slowly counting from one to 100 or 1000, doing it on an empty stomach such as first thing in the morning, trying it after exercise, and asking for help from your guides of the Light.
We encourage you to practice regular meditation to reap all the wonderful benefits, especially peace of mind.
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Copyright © Scott Petullo, Stephen Petullo
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