5 Tips for Beginning Meditators

Maintain a meditation practice for any length of time and it becomes clear its one of those “easier said than done” type things. Consider the following a bit of friendly advice to make the whole experience more useful and enjoyable.

IGNORE THE MAGIC: What do I mean by this? There is precedent for superpowers caused by meditation in both Buddhism and Hinduism. They’re called Siddhis (pronounced like CD) or powers, but everyone who displays them is either mythical or has been meditating for hours every day for a couple lifetimes. Ignore all this stuff. If you’re meditating to become Superman you’re doing it wrong.

NOT TABULA RASA: On a similar note, if you try to clear your mind and make it blank, you’ll drive yourself nuts. Its not possible, nor is it the point of meditation. Think of meditation like sharpening and honing the blade of a knife, not cleaning a dirty kitchen counter, and you’ll be on the right track.

COMFORT: Traditionalists will almost certainly disagree with me on this, but go for comfort over what you’re supposed to do. If you can’t sit still in full-lotus then don’t sit in full-lotus! Sit cross legged, on your knees, or even in a chair, just make sure its a position you’re comfortable holding for an extended period. Even if full-lotus isn’t important, staying still is.

QUALITY OVER QUANTITY: Five minutes every day is far better than half an hour once a week. There have been plenty of studies that show huge positive benefits from a daily meditation practice, but the key here is DAILY.

DON’T BUY ANYTHING: The great thing about meditation is you don’t actually need anything more than you. Sure, you could buy an expensive zafu or zabuton or some other device to sit on, or you could wrap an old phone book in a towel and sit on it cross-legged, or sit in a chair if that’s not comfortable.

FINAL THOUGHTS: In the end, the best advice I can give is: just do it. Focus on creating the habit of sitting your butt down and meditating once a day, regardless of anything else, because even if you do have the perfect meditation cushion, prayer beads, etc, none of that is going to make any difference if you never bother doing it. I’ve included what may well be the best article I’ve found on developing the habit of meditation to get you started. Good luck!