EVERYONE CAN MEDITATE!

When I talk to people it often happens, naturally and without effort, that our conversation turns to meditation and its benefits. I love this topic and usually I can sense a genuine interest and curiosity to find out about meditation and other practices which help us to go inside and relax. In particular, I feel that necessity for meditation when talking to people who work in fast-paced, demanding, stressful business environments.


Usually, when asked how to start, I suggest a very simple yet effective form of meditation and to practice it twice daily for 5 minutes. The key: awareness of our breath is used to be present and quieten down our over-worked, over-active minds and the constant stream of thoughts. Actually, we take better care of our cars (bringing them to the garage for inspections and maintenance) than of our minds. They are constantly working, being flooded and stimulated with information, with little interruptions and breaks. Just close your eyes for a few seconds and become aware of your current state of mind. Are there many thoughts, few thoughts? What kind of thoughts are there?


The meditation


Now, the meditation works like this: find a quiet space where you will not be disturbed, sit down in a comfortable position with a straight back. Close your eyes. Inhale and exhale deeply two, three times. Then, take your awareness to your nostrils and observe the subtle sensation of the breath flowing in and out. Be totally with that sensation. That’s it! It couldn’t be any easier.


Now, the trick is what you do when thoughts are coming. And they will! Sometimes more, sometimes less. Sometimes disturbing thoughts, gentle thoughts at other times. That is fine! When you become aware that a thought has arisen, whatever the thought may be, immediately take your attention back to your nostrils and the sensation of the breath. Sometimes, you might realize that you are lost in thought only after a while. It doesn’t matter. Just come back to the breath and bring back your attention to the nostrils. This is a great practice as our mind is used to go into trains of thought in its regular mode. Once you have practiced this simple meditation for a while, extend the time to 10 or 15 minutes.


What I experience is that at first, many people are eager to start doing this mediation, often because they really need it to relax their minds. Then the next day they tell me:


“IT DIDN'T WORK! I CANNOT MEDITATE, I HAVE TOO MANY THOUGHTS!”


I was quite surprised the first time I heard this, but then intuitively I found the following comparison to respond: Let’s assume you want to run a marathon but have not trained yet. Can you do the 42km after training just one time? Of course not, you might say. And this is the clue. Also calming our minds and the constant train-of-thought takes time and practice. Our minds have been “running wild” for such a long time. Sitting down one time for five minutes is not enough and there is no spell we could use to switch off our thoughts immediately. Plus: it is also an important insight to realize how many thoughts are coming up in your mind. And to just accept it the way it is at any particular moment.

The only thing this practice requires is our commitment to do it regularly, to give ourselves this precious time twice a day to de-compress, to sit and be. Whatever comes is fine. There is no rule that says which feelings or emotions should be coming and which shouldn’t. Also to just be with discomfort that might come up is a very good practice. Anything we observe comes and goes anyways.


I encourage everyone to practice meditation and to say:


“YES, I CAN MEDIATE!"


I am curious to hear about your experiences!

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