Just Sit: The Mindful15 Guided Meditations
Am I doing this right? I don’t think I’m capable of mediating. I can’t calm my mind. Maybe this isn’t worth the effort -- It’s natural for beginners to have some doubts about their meditation practice. Even seasoned meditators can experience periods of self-doubt. Doubt can make meditation practice feel like a struggle, like a fight against yourself, and it can even cause some people to give up altogether. But, doubt can also be a teacher from which you can learn more about your habitual responses to uncertainty and confusion. Let me give you some ideas that can help you get through periods of doubt. Listen to the podcast: Or, read the blog: When I was a little girl, I wanted to learn to play the piano. My parents, however, couldn’t afford to buy me a piano. Their solution was to buy me a guitar, instead, and send me for lessons. I lasted through three lessons before I quit. You see, I was seven. I expected that I’d sit down with the guitar and play music. I didn’t realize I’d have to play Jingle Bells in the middle of June, over and over again, while regularly having to stop to correct mistakes. This was no fun at all, so I walked away. I’m pretty sure my parents were glad they didn’t try to scrape up the money for a piano. What’s the point of this story? Sometimes, I think meditation students are a little like my seven-year-old self. If they don’t reach their expected outcome in short order, they conclude that they cannot meditate or it doesn’t work for them. The roots of doubt This is the point where doubt first creeps in, and it happens for a few reasons. Sometimes practitioners have overly optimistic ideas about the amount of practice required to build a skill. When the skill doesn’t grow fast enough, they conclude they’re doing something wrong. In other cases, practitioners don’t know what to expect from meditation, so they’re unable to judge whether they’re doing it correctly. And sometimes practitioners do have expectations. When their expectations are not met, they might conclude that meditation is not working. Let’s take a look a more in-depth look at these. How do I know whether I’m practicing enough? Aim for regularity in your practice and don’t fret over the length of your sessions. It’s the regularity that reaps results. I recommend daily meditation, however, if you can manage to meditate four to five days per week, that’s a good start. Don’t get caught up in worrying over whether you’re practicing enough. Just meditate as often as you can. The longer you sit in any given session, the more chance you give the mind to settle, but if you can only commit to five minutes of meditation, then just do that. The benefits you get from a short practice reinforce the habit and will likely lead you to meditate more often for longer. The bottom line: Give yourself permission to let go of the doubt and the concern and just sit as often as you can. How do I know I’m doing it right? Meditation is pretty simple (but not necessarily easy, which is why you need to practice often): Put your attention on your breath. Keep your attention focused on the breath. When you notice your attention has wandered away from the breath, return it to the breath. Repeat. If you’re doing this, you’re doing it right. All other instruction is unnecessary. That’s not to say other instruction won’t make meditation easier, but if you never get that instruction, you still have all you need to meditate successfully. If you think you’re doing it wrong, you’re probably wrong. There is no one perfect posture, no one perfect meditation object, no one perfect place in the body on which to notice your breath, no one way to do anything. And, the best part is mindfulness can teach you what you need to know about meditation.