The Two Tricks that Make Meditation a Breeze
Meditation is one of those things that you can cite as a healthy practice that you somehow don’t do enough of. It’s like dieting and exercise. You should do it, you’ve done it and seen the benefits, but it’s kind of difficult at times.
For me, when I started meditation it was a necessity. I worked a job I didn’t love and had some inner and outer conflicts. Meditation centered me and helped me to respond and not react.
But when those challenges went away, my practice was under threat. Without the negative stimuli, I thought I didn’t need it as much.
As life would have it, things got difficult again and I realized that if I had just maintained the practice, I would’ve breezed past the oncoming storm.
So while bad life experiences are certainly a great catalyst for meditation, it isn’t one of the two tricks I’m about to mention. The first is deceptively simple and the other is the opposite of what we usually do in meditation.
1. Close your eyes
When I was first introduced to meditation, I was told to sit in a dark, quiet room and to focus on a candle. If my eyes close, I was to let them do so naturally. But later in life I would meditate in a well-lit room and I never closed my eyes.
When I reflected on this, the sessions where the room was dark or I closed my eyes were more rewarding than when I had my eyes open.
The reason this is so is because our eyes take in eighty percent of our sensory information, which means that our nervous system has more to process, which leaves our brainwaves in the beta state of everyday wakefulness. This state isn’t optimal for meditation.
Less is more for this practice, so the less information coming in is the more our brainwaves go to the alpha state of relaxation and internal reflection. There is far less analysis which means there will be far less thoughts. You can focus on your breath or how you feel inside with much more ease.
If you can control for noise that also helps, but as I’ve mentioned before, focusing on sounds can be a meditation in and of itself.
2. Embrace resistance
How many times has this happened to you? You’re meditating and minding your own business, when suddenly you hit a wall. The flow you were enjoying is over because of this obstinate block. Now you’re uncomfortable and then you start to think about your discomfort.
Then the mind takes over and you are no longer meditating, but thinking.
This has derailed literally everyone I’ve ever talked to about meditating. It is why most people I’ve spoken to gave it up.
The solution? Let yourself feel the resistance. Whenever we feel resistance in life we tend to resist it in return. This is counterproductive because all it does is create more resistance.
When we do this in meditation, we then associate this painful internal resistance with meditation itself and then we give it up. It’s a super-common error but the solution is to just let yourself feel the resistance. Just embrace what’s happening.
A pleasant wave comes in, embrace it. A painful wave comes in, embrace it. A nervous wave comes in, embrace it. A neutral wave comes it, embrace it.
With these two tips, meditation will be a whole lot easier and more rewarding. You might even become like me and start adding on a few extra minutes!