Hey all –
Just wanted to share a quick observation about the whole meditation thing for those who are just getting into it…
Yes, I know that many teachers/methods suggest that you start with 20 to 30 minutes. And yes, this is a good amount of time to “step into the zone” so that you can see quantifiable results. However, from my view, most folks are not going to be anywhere near ready for this amount of time out of the gate. Our brains – especially in these modern, high-tech times of multitasking, sensory overload and scattered attention spans – are simply not conditioned to have any luck with shutting things down for 20 minutes.
Think of it like jogging. If you want to run a marathon, but have either never jogged before or are returning after a long layoff, you have to start slow. In fact, you might even start off by taking a series of brisk walks for 10 or 15 minutes, just to let the body acclimate. From there, you might integrate little bits of jogging into your walks as you extend things to 20 to 25 minutes. The idea is, you keep adding a little bit more each session, as you gradually condition the body to run longer distances over time.
Same with meditation… which is why I would rather see someone get two or three minutes of focused meditation at a shot, then to force yourself through 20 minutes of distraction and daydreaming. True, there’s not much benefit to these ultra short sessions, but it’s all about the bigger picture. You are conditioning your brain to focus on nothing (or a key word or phrase, depending on the style of meditation that you prefer) for a short period of time. Then, just as with jogging, you are gradually increasing the time you spend meditating, until you can hit that 20- or even 30-minute mark with a reasonable amount of consistency with your focus.
The other cool thing about this approach, is that everyone has a few minutes. Sometimes, we will postpone grabbing that 20 or 30 until we run out of day, thinking that we just don’t have time. But if it’s just two or three solid minutes, no problem (although, let me assure you, even a few minutes of really “stepping into it” is not easy!).
A quick suggestion: If you’re looking to try this, set aside a good five minutes, then spend the first two or three decompressing… breathing slow, deep and steady, and allowing all thoughts and concerns of the day to gradually leave your consciousness. Then – once you’re feeling more relaxed, you can step into the silence and try to get two or three focused minutes of medi time. Do this for days or weeks, as you wish, then gradually go to either more of these shorter sessions per day or, better yet, longer sessions, increasing them by one or two minutes at a time. This is a practice that will benefit you for a lifetime.
All for this moment,