you begin to tame the movement of your
mind, it affects everything else. It's
like renovating: Once you start, it's hard
Once you establish a regular practice, your life
can feel like it's undergoing a major upheaval.
Meditating is a new way of looking at things.
You have to be willing to change.
In this lesson you learn how to establish a meditation
best support for regular and consistent
meditation practice is that you enjoy doing
If you prepare for meditation practice
properly and make it a regular part of your life,
it becomes like drinking water. So before you get
to the cushion, you should look at your lifestyle
and prepare for practice properly.
Apply the principles of gentleness
and precision in every aspect of your practice.
Without precision you'll be
unable to establish a strong container in which
your practice can thrive. So we establish a
routine, follow it with discipline, and stick
to the instructions.
Without gentleness, meditation
becomes just another way in which you're trying
to measure up against a hopeless ideal. So
provide yourself with the time and space to
meditate, respect your limits, and soften up
your mind and body properly. It's important
not to expect perfection or get lost in the
finer points of the instruction. With gentleness
and precision, meditation practice will bring
Beginning a meditation practice
is an excellent opportunity to contemplate how
you spend your time. One of the obstacles to
meditation is being pulled in too many directions.
Ask yourself: How much of what
you do is important and truly necessary?
What drains you? What nourishes
you? Do you prioritize the nourishing
activities? Are there activities
you can postpone or eliminate?
Do you believe and feel that taming
your mind isn't a hobby or an extracurricular
activity but rather the most important
thing you could be doing?
you may need to simplify your life
in order to meditate, a benefit
of meditation is that it will make
your life simpler.
this resonate with you?
Establishing a routine
Especially at the beginning, it's
important to establish a basic meditation routine.
Decide when you practice and where.
When Experiment with different
times until you discover the
time of day that's best for you.
Perhaps in the morning before
you "start" your day.
perhaps in the evening. Short
sessions at the beginning and
end of the day are wonderful
for stabilizing the mind. Once
you settle on a regular time,
stick to it; this frees you from
having to plan from day to day.
How long Free yourself from worrying
about how long you will practice
by choosing a length for your
sessions and then stick with
it. Consistency is essential.
If you decide to meditate for
twenty minutes, stay on your
seat for that period of time
unless the house is on fire.
Use a timer so that you can just
relax into the practice without
thinking about the minutes passing.
Begin with short sessions and
stay consistent for a very long
time. Ten to twenty minutes of
sitting practice a couple of
times daily over a lifetime is
good. It's better to do consistent
shorter sessions over a long
period of time than to do longer
sessions sporadically or not
at all. Short sessions every
day is ideal.
If decide you can only meditate
two or three times a week, the
important thing is just to stay
Adapt your practice
to your schedule. When you have
less time, do shorter sessions.
If we meditate haphazardly,
doing a big session of practice
one day and not returning to
the cushion for a month, we won't
enjoy meditation. That approach
frenzied and stressful, like
digging a big hole in the garden
and then forgetting about it.
When we return, we have to start
from scratch. Meditation in spurts
is uncomfortable and painful
because it can't ride on the
cumulative effect of regular
practice. We have to keep starting
over. We need to apply ourselves
consistently. Sitting for short
sessions on a regular basis is
a more gentle approach. One of
the most common reasons that
people stop meditating is that
they mismanage their time.
Being ambitious about having
the perfect situation for practice
can also work against us. One
student began with meditation
practice in his twenties and
was quite disciplined with a
regular practice of an hour a
day. Then as he became busy with
his career, he couldn't keep
the schedule going, and his practice
dropped away. He told himself
that once he got more stability
in his life he would begin to
sit again. But then he got married
and had a family. Having a regular
hour-long practice became an
even more remote possibility.
Instead of simply shortening
his sessions and letting his
life fall into place around practice,
he got caught thinking that he
could create a perfect lifestyle
to accommodate his longer sessions.
As a result, he didn't practice
at all for a very long time.
Where Choose a place to sit
and sit there each time. While
you don't need to spend exorbitant
sums on "equipment",
do select a place that's free
of distractions. Create a proper
environment for practice—a
place that is comfortable, quiet,
and clean. A corner of your room
that feels uplifted, safe, spacious,
and private is good enough. It
is worth investing in a proper
meditation cushion. If you find
ritual appealing, set up a table
with candles, a flower, incense,
you—and meditate in front
of that. But don't get caught
up in chasing your idea of the
perfect environment in which
to meditate. Some people from
the city will go into the mountains
to meditate in peace and find
that the crickets and the birds
won't shut up.
The body We're all aware of how
our mind influences what we can
do with our body, but we don't
always consider how much influence
our body has on our mind. If
our body is hungry or in pain,
it's hard to stabilize our mind.
They have to be in harmony. Openness
and flexibility of body encourages
those same qualities in the mind.
A supple body helps support our
Yoga is a traditional
and powerful way to open up the
body's energy as well as develop
Preparing Before you begin, stop
for a moment to see what your
mind feels like. Since the way
we feel changes all the time,
your practice will need to change
as well. Be compassionate and
honest about your own needs and,
at the same time, apply the necessary
discipline. For example, if you're
feeling agitated, it might be
a good idea to take a slow walk
outside before beginning your
session. If you're drowsy, you
might take a cool shower to wake
up before you sit. Perhaps you'd
like to read a little about meditation
to remind yourself why you are
Be sensitive as well to what
you're thinking as you begin
your session. If you just plop
down on our cushion straight
from the office or right after
an argument, the entire meditation
period might be spent slowing
our mind down enough even to
remember that you're meditating.
You want to let go of as much
as you can before you sit down.
Here's a helpful exercise for
tuning in and relaxing instead
of rushing into meditation.
Stand with your
arms relaxed at your sides, eyes
either half-closed or shut.
Slowly guide your attention
up from your feet to the crown
of your head. Pause where you
find tension or imbalance,
and breathe into those areas,
allowing the tension to dissolve.
Be aware of your body in the
space; feel the support of
the ground beneath your feet.
Breathe deeply through your
nose, exhaling stress, agitation,
and tension. Be aware of your
Here are guided instructions for the
basics of sitting posture and working
with the breath:
Coming back - gently
morning mist in the sun
When you sit down to meditate, you're eliminating
all other activities. You choose a time and space
wisely to reduce distractions, you prepare your
body to relax before we sit, and you prepare your
mind to be as simple and present as we can be.
While you want to do all of this with precision,
as well as gentleness, remember that this is just
preparation, not actual meditation.
In trying to create ideal conditions you may never
get to the cushion! At some point you just have
to sit down and do it.