One of the most common questions to arise for both beginner and longer term meditators is how to develop a regular sitting practice. Here are some pointers:
Is there benefit in a regular sitting practice?
Yes. The physical and mental health benefits (lower blood pressure, greater relaxation, improved immune system) associated with meditation require repeated and regular meditation to occur.
The mental and physical activity (the sense of doing and go, go, go) which dominates most of our lives is a very powerful force. It takes an equally powerful force to intervene in this . Developing strong habit around meditation is a useful way to counter this force.
By developing a regular sitting practice we teach our mind and body a new habit. Just like brushing your teeth or having a daily shower, meditation can become an easeful daily habit. Just something you do.
How often would you recommend sitting?
I would recommend sitting once every day.
How long would you recommend sitting for?
I would recommend sitting for a minimum of 15 minutes. It tends to be that our minds are very busy when we first stop and sit to meditate. By giving ourselves enough time (in this case 15 minutes) we start to allow a settling down (even if this is just physical) where we can both feel and develop a taste for the quality of a meditative approach or state. Generally this feel and taste will be attractive – it feels good. As such it serves to reinforce our practice.
How do I meditate?
Read the recommended meditation instructions.
How do I make the practice regular?
- Choose to meditate in the same room every time. This conditions and reinforces the habit you are developing. As the meditation habit becomes stronger, sitting regularly becomes easier.
- Choose to meditate at the same time (or close to it) every day. I would recommend first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Again this is to create and strengthen a habit so that the practice can become a ‘normal’ everyday routine.
- Let family members know what you are doing and that you don’t want to be disturbed or distracted during this time. By knowing you will not be interrupted or needed, it is easier to actually take the time out to meditate and also relax in the actual meditation.
- Don’t worry if you have lots of thoughts or a busy mind. The object is not to stop thoughts. It is normal for your mind to think. In fact it is normal for your mind to do whatever it is doing during the meditation, so relax around this.
- Remember – you can’t do it wrong. There is no wrong or right meditation. Just taking the time out regularly and sitting relatively still is all that is required. Notice if you have thoughts of wanting to do it right or ‘progress’. These are just thoughts and in truth you can’t do it wrong and there is no such thing as progress. Just sit, watch, be aware and see what happens!
- Join a sitting group, course or community. Having a regular sitting group, community or attending a meditation course are fantastic ways to encourage a regular practice as well as providing useful support, friendship and advice. Find out more information about courses and groups in the Wellington area
- Have fun! All to often meditation becomes an overly serious affair. Its not. relax, enjoy, if you miss a sit or two or even stop altogether, be easy with yourself. meditation is useful and attractive to some people and not others as well. Trust yourself in your natural inclinations as to whether meditation is beneficial and useful to you or not.