Monday, March 15, 2010

simple meditation for newbies

I don’t think I’m alone in saying this, but I really struggle with meditation. What makes it worse is that every time I try to learn the skill, I get distracted, discouraged and give up. I’ve made feeble attempts a couple of times this year; I’ve read the first few pages of the book Hurry Up and Meditate a few times, each time putting it back in my handbag thinking to myself, I’ll delve into it when I have more time / am feeling more settled / see a cute piglet flitting past my window.

I’ve taken matters into my own hands, sat down at the beach, made myself comfortable and started to still my mind, only to be distracted by a real-life Bondi Rescue happening right in front of my eyes. It’s very hard to stay focussed with a TV crew and two bedraggled girls in bikinis not 10 metres away. (Fortunately, they weren’t injured, just attractive and caught off-guard by the power of the waves – perfect TV fodder!)

So I’ve been on the lookout for meditation tips and guidelines to help me get into the habit of a regular practise. I figure I need to start simple and with no expectations (very important, according to the article on mindfulness meditation we have coming up in issue 127, due out April 21) then build up as I gain confidence and experience.

Coming across this meditation by Ed & Deb Shapiro, then, was just the thing I needed. If you’re just starting out on the path, like myself, you might like it too. Let me know if you try it and how your journey is progressing.

"Sit comfortably with your back straight. Take a deep breath and let it go. Eyes are closed, breathe normally. Begin to silently count at the end of each out breath: Inhale...exhale...count one; inhale...exhale...two; inhale...exhale...three. Count to five, then start at one again. Just five breaths and back to one. Simply following each breath in and silently counting. So simple."

Update: I found these meditative phrases, also by Ed & Deb Shapiro, that might also be useful, if counting isn't your thing.
* "Soft belly, open heart" with each in- and out-breath
* "Breathing in, I calm the body and mind; breathing out, I smile."
* "I am easeful and peaceful, I am love."

I also really appreciated this perspective: "If your purpose is to try to achieve a quiet mind, then the trying itself will create tension and failure. Instead, you are just with whatever is happening in the moment, whether it is pleasant or unpleasant. No judgment, no right or wrong. Watching whatever arises and letting it go is all that is required. It is more of an undoing than a doing." [Emphasis mine.]


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