There are few things in life where I think I should definitely do it and would reap huge benefits from it, but sometimes lack in discipline in doing it. Meditation is one of these things.
The upsides are incredible:
- increased awareness
- better stress management
- an inner calmness
and about a thousand medical claims that ring to be true.
If you think about it, people have been meditating for thousands of years. It’s very rare that something that can bring you a healthier and more energetic life survives for so long.
Your food and diet has changed over the last 10’000 years in ways that we can’t really imagine. We have gone from hunters and gatherers to people who have settled in cities and countries.
The grain you eat today is different than the grain 150 years ago. The dairy you consume might be unhealthy. The fish you eat is not wild and the chicken you eat have not been pasture-raised. All of these things have changed and put additional stress on to your body, because it wasn’t made to handle all of these things at once.
Or what about diet recommendations? Low-fat? Low-carb? High-fat? High-protein? What’s the correct way? Is there a right way? Very difficult to say (you should have a lifestyle, not a diet).
Another perspective would be exercise. The fitness industry has changed immensely in the last 30 to 40 years. We have gone from the golden era of Bodybuilding to the aerobic craze. From strength training to Crossfit. From functional to movement-based training. What’s the right way to move? How much should you move? Again, a lot of questions that are difficult to answer, because, as so often, it depends.
Meditation is different
But when it comes to meditation, almost all signs are clear: A daily meditation practice can help every single human being. Again, we could go on to some tangents and think about the duration, the position, the thoughts, guided or non-guided. But all in all, I feel like there are a lot less variables in meditation vs. in diet and exercise. Also as mentioned above, it has been around for thousands of years.
The simple guide to meditation
So, in order to get started with meditation to you have to become a buddhist monk, not eat meat for 40 years and grow bald? You can do these things if you want, of course, but they are not necessary. Starting meditation can actually be a quite simple and easy task. The question is just will you do it? As with every practice, habit is key. So in the beginning it doesn’t matter for how long you meditate, as long as you do it regularly. 5 minutes every day is way more helpful than 30 minutes once a month. My simple way to get started with meditation looks like this:
- for the next 30 days, meditate 10 minutes, every day, with a guided meditation app
- sit on the floor, close your eyes
- legs can be in any position. You can do the meditation pose (ohm’s optional) or you can sit however you want, it doesn’t matter
- for the guided meditation I’d use “Simply Being” and use the voice-only setting
- meditate in the evening, directly when you come from work
Now that we have the basics, let’s discuss the details
Why 30 days?
It takes around 66 days to really instil a habit, but I found that around 30 days, provided that you see a benefit, or as long as it gets easier, you continue automatically.
Why 10 minutes?
Because 20 minutes is too long and 10 minutes is challenging for most people. If it’s super difficult, you can reduce it to 5 minutes.
Why every day?
Every day for 30 days is better than 30 minutes once a month. And also, we’re trying to build a practice, meaning we try to build long-lasting habits. That’s the key.
A lot of people struggle with just focusing on their breath and think way too many things. When you listen to a guiding voice, you tend to forget and do the things the voice tells you. Later on you can do it with only the music or the sound, or entirely without it.
Why sitting and on the floor?
Personal preference, but I feel like lying down is too comforting, so you might fall asleep and on the floor gives it a “meditation feel”, so you get into the mindset of meditating.
Again, doesn’t really matter, I usually use 2-3 pillows and try to sit comfortably.
Guided meditation apps
I’ve used headspace before, but for me it was a bit too much content so it got distracting. I feel like “Simply Being” is a great balance between guiding and calming. Another alternative is Zenfriend by my friend. It’s not guided but works also as a timer. Give it a try. You can use any app that tells you to calm down and focus on your breathing.
Why in the evening or after work?
Simple: Meditating in the evening then gives you a clear break from the day. You might have tons on your mind about meetings and projects, but when you come home and meditate you can shut off and prepare for your evening routine.
Meditation has a lot of benefits and is one practice that more or less didn’t change over the years (versus diet and exercise), while at the same time providing huge value to its practitioner. Meditation doesn’t cost you anything, but 10 minutes of your time. Start today and feel more energized and more aware of your actions.