Confession time; I meditate. Confession number two: despite three dedicated years of quiet time, I can cite exactly ZERO visions. There have been no shining lights, no sages on the mountain top. It’s a daily investment of about 20-30 minutes of my time with not one cool story to show for it.
No, it doesn’t look half that sexy. I just sit on the couch, like this…
It’s not hard work.
For all the labor I’ve invested, I keep expecting friends who’ve known me for years to tell me how much I’ve changed. No dice.
The obvious question you must be thinking, the same one I often ask myself is, why continue?
Without getting too deep into my belly button, the main reason I continue is habit. I’ve made it a habit so I keep doing it. The things we talk about and do are the aspects by which define ourselves. You play baseball because everyone knows you’re a baseball guy, starting with you.
The other reason, probably more critical, is that when I started this practice I knew from what I’d read it may not have an immediate benefit. The value of meditation can take long to reveal itself. For this reason, I decided early on to stick to my decision like wedding vows.
In truth, there have been two changes I’ve noticed in my life. The first one is I believe I’ve come to have a better relationship with anger.
For men, anger is always within easy reach. We often don’t know what’s happened with the crimson emotion until it’s passed, until we’re apologizing for exploding.
I’m not the abusive sort, violent or anything like that, but I’ve never been comfortable with my relationship to anger. These past years have reshaped it in many ways.
The other thing I’ve noticed is the world around me is steeped in anxiety. Perhaps it’s a result of my own reduced anxiety, what I would describe as an improved relationship with anxiety, but I’ve noticed more and more how people are generally anxious.
There is an anxiety manifested in movement, which is not necessarily related to productivity. I notice many simply can’t sit still. They also can’t let silence ride. It feels as if we aren’t doing something, dancing in place, complaining or making small talk, then we are not sure we’re alive.
Meditation teaches me to be more still, less productive, less worried. This may reason enough for you to consider a practice.
Your New Habits
The biggest hurdle with any new thing is getting it going. Then, it’s all about keeping it going. I started at meditating once before in my life. It didn’t stick for too long. That’s okay.
Here are five techniques you can apply to help yourself make it stick.
Commit to five minutes a day. Stay at five until you genuinely feel the urge to spend more time. Don’t rush it.
I’ve spent as much as one hour in one session, as little as five minutes. For the longest time, I was at twenty minutes. These days I spend fifteen, but one day I would like to get back to twenty, spending two sessions per day.
I have no anxiety about getting there. It will happen when it happens.
Get the App
I’ve tried transcendental meditation but found the practice too complicated in many ways. Mindfulness you can do from any chair, with no spiritual aspect if you prefer.
Another great app is Insight Timer. I use this one primarily now, as it simply gives me the cues I need. After a year with Headspace, you will likely find you can go it alone.
At first, I meditated by myself. As it moved into my habits, I invited my wife to join me. It was awkward at first, but now it’s part of our day. We help each other keep the habit.
We often talk afterward about challenges or thoughts that come up. I believe it strengthens our marriage in ways we don’t necessarily see.
The thing that you stay curious about are the things that last the longest. Connect your favorite RSS reader and social media accounts to feeds on meditation. Andy Puddinecombe is a great one to follow.
Read and engage but don’t forget to unfollow garbage feeds when you find them. Move on. Find a new master.
Talk about it
Finding audience appropriate ways to share your experience will reinforce your new habit. Remember, it’s partly because people think of you as a baseball guy that you play. Not everybody is going to be interested in your new crush. Try to consider the receiver when sharing, but DO share.
Doing these things won’t guarantee you find that zen place in three years. You may find what you are looking for sooner than I did. Like with most things in life worth doing, it’s all about the journey. Try to pressure the process over the product. Five minutes a day.
You can do this.