There are endless resources out there that describe the perfect way to meditate, the ideal way to sit in stillness and achieve that serenity that comes with non-thinking. From apps to podcasts to guided Youtube meditations, a whole market has developed to teach something so utterly simple, something that has been practiced by humankind for millennia.
It becomes laughable at a certain point and cringe-worthy beyond that when you see people actually paying for services that serve to teach them how to sit still and breathe, how to not think. The fact of the matter is that we’re simply over-complicating it. Sure, you can develop an entire science behind a simple practice (say, memory function or sleeping patterns) and you can accordingly maximize and tweak said practice to perfection. Meditation, however, does not demand utmost efficiency and optimization of its process. For a master of meditation, it may be certainly be worthwhile exploring various techniques — like the breath of fire — or playing around with postures, mantras, thought-patterns, etc. But for the average person who just wants to meditate, it becomes a n increasingly daunting proposition when faced with so many how-to’s, as we’re led to believe that meditation is this difficult practice that requires utmost dedication, skill, and ample effort, not to mention a subscription to a service and some accessories to boot.
Don’t get me wrong — some of these services do a great service for people and I’ll be the first to agree that the world is far better with them than without. But my qualm rests with over-complicating the practice of meditation in itself, which we simply need not do. The problem rests with the fact that once you try particular techniques that are being conveyed to you, you try to fit the practice of meditating into your world in a way that’s not natural, like a puzzle piece that doesn’t connect properly. You develop this vision of what meditating should be when, in reality, it’s not so much an objective activity as it is a subjective one.
And so this brings us to the secret lying behind the art of meditating effectively: there is no real secret. It’s sort of an anticlimactic way to wrap up the article, so below are a few tips to help you meditate anyway.
- Don’t overthink it. Or else you’ll spend more time arranging your surroundings and preparing to meditate rather than actually meditating.
- Don’t force anything. If you find that you continuously think distracting thoughts while you meditate, then so be it, you’ll realize you didn’t meditate the way you wanted to and you’ll simply try again.
- Don’t give up. While meditating is simpler than many make it out to be, it’s still something that requires practice, like anything worthwhile.
- Don’t get discouraged. Try different postures, different areas, different times of day, different routines, etc. Some days it’s simply not doable.
- Don’t think that you can’t meditate. Anyone can. It’s not a matter of ‘how to’ so much as just doing, just being, just sitting in stillness.
- Don’t envision that meditating simply consists of sitting with your palms up in silence for half an hour; you can meditate while doing chores, while drifting to sleep, while walking. You can meditate for two minutes or two hours, by focusing on your breathing or by focusing on a mantra, by listening to external sounds or internal thoughts, etc.
And ultimately, realize why, and then remember this reason why, you’re choosing to meditate. Do you want to do it to achieve a few moments of stillness and calmness every day? Do you want to introspect or self-reflect? Do you want to achieve some sort of answer to a problem? There are different purposes towards meditating, different ways of meditating, different styles and different results for everyone. You don’t need to invest time and energy into learning how but, really, just some effort to find your groove and some dedication towards keeping up with it. It doesn’t hurt to look into various resources or services, so long as it’s not overcomplicating a process that is really steeped in simplicity.