Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional and meditation works wonders.
Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor. ~Thich Nhat Hahn
Not only have I held onto suffering long past the expiration date, I realize I've also created suffering. Looking back at the times in my life when I seemed to embrace suffering as a badge of honor, I shake my head in wonder. What was I thinking?! Life is too short. There are many ways to prolong suffering. Maybe you've experienced a few of these:
- Going over and over something in your head, trying to figure out what went wrong, what you could have done differently, even wishing you could go back in time and fix it.
- Worrying creates a constant state of suffering. We know there is no going back, only the here and now, yet we continue to allow the mind to worry.
- When we get caught up in worrying or overthinking we give away the present moment to the power of fear.
- Thoughts and feelings are complex parts of our human makeup, and it's easy to make the mistake of believing the thoughts are truth.
- You can control your thoughts (it takes practice) and you don’t have to let them control you.
Meditation is an Antidote to Suffering
Meditation is a powerful tool and with physical and mental benefits. The practice is simple and easy to incorporate into your life - but you must make the time for it. No special equipment or skill is required. It simply requires you. And a bit of time. Many of us get caught up in the logistics of meditation - the how and the why and then we make the whole process more complicated. That's what's better known as avoiding or resisting. If that's you - no worries - acknowledge and move on.
How to Begin Your Meditation Practice
- Find a quiet place at home - inside or out.
- Set the timer on your phone for five minutes - gradually working up to longer - or not.
- Sit comfortably or even lie down, move and adjust your position as needed. Don't think you have to be perfectly still.
- Focus on your breath as you tune everything else out.
- OR focus on a word, color, mantra (phrase), prayer. or bible verse - whatever resonates with you.
- When you get distracted, bring yourself back to your breath and then refocus.
- Know that distraction is part of the process of finding a meditation practice.
- When the timer goes off, ease back to your routine, taking the peace, calm and focus you discovered.
Other Meditation Ideas for Beginners
- Walking meditation - focus on each step and notice the things around you - nature, people, buildings - resisting the urge to let your mind wander.
- Meditation app – I personally love Insight Timer because they offer an incredible free option, with the ability to donate to teachers you enjoy and upgrade to a paid plan. Headspace, Calm are just a few.
- Physical activity as meditation – yoga, dancing, running or any movement that allows you to be present with your body — you are meditating.
Find a Meditation Practice That Works For YOU
- The key is to be present and aware.
- When distractions present themselves, practice letting them go and bringing your awareness back to the present moment.
- Let go of any frustration, judgment or discouragement that may come up.
- Give yourself grace.
If you need help beginning your meditation practice, we're here to help. Our Mindfulness & Meditation Retreats give you the tools and baby steps to get started. Remember start with your breath and go from there.