We're at a time in the world when inner neurosis is as prevalent (and dangerous) as environmental crises, political and financial instability, and racial and social inequity. I'd argue it's inner neurosis that LEADS to many of the aforementioned problems.
The external is always a reflection of the internal. That is to say, if we don't get our insides right, we'll never get the outside right.
Meditation does for the mind and emotions what exercise does for the body. At this point in time, with all the research on the benefits of meditation for mental, emotional and physical states readily available, NOT meditating is an act of negligence.
Here are 5 reasons you're NOT meditating, and most importantly, how to right yourself.
"I don't have time."
This one is classic. We're all busy. Frankly, this is the very reason you need meditation in the first place. If you are a parent or grandparent, a boss, a creative, a coach, a teacher, a healthcare worker, a caretaker - a leader in ANY facet, it is time to model how to prioritize your time.
A simply daily sitting practice of 10 minutes will not take anything away from your life. In fact, if you don't have 10 minutes in your day, it's time to take better control of your precious life you're keeping so full.
I always ask myself: "what gives me the right?" to be a teacher, to be a parent, to be an author and share my thoughts, or leader in any way, if I'm not taking care of myself, first. I cannot guide anything with integrity if I don't at first lead myself.
Reprioritize your time. If you don't have 10 minutes, you've lost control of your life.
"I don't know how"
The act of meditation is the act of sitting and, as my teacher, Chhoje Rinpoche says, "making friends with yourself." It need not be an esoteric practice that has to happen in a specific place or with a specific lineage or teacher (though it can if it serves you).
Just sit and stay there. Relax your body, close your eyes (or keep them open), breathe and allow thoughts to come and go without attaching to them. Become the witness of your thoughts.
Our brains are like puppy dogs. We can train them to sit and stay, or we can let them ruin the whole damn living room. I'm sure you've encountered (or even been yourself!) a person whose mind is ruining the whole show. We've all been there.
But it's your job to clean that shit up. Be the Cesar Millan of your mind and do the work. No one else will do it for you. Overcomplicating it and telling yourself you "don't know how" is an excuse. There are countless apps, websites, teachers and more out there for you to use at your disposal.
The truth is, you need none of it to get started. Just yourself.
This isn't rocket science. Just sit.
"My mind is too distracted"
Yes, exactly. Again, this is why you need it. If you find yourself all over the place in meditation, then you are officially a human. Good work. You will see with regular practice, this may lessen.
The point is to witness the quality of your mind TODAY. Sometimes I will sit and if my mind is particularly distracted, then I know, it may not be the best morning for me to make any big decisions. Or if I keep falling asleep in meditation, I better take it easy that day.
Meditation INFORMS me of the quality of my mind. It's a tool to help me see myself with even more clarity. It helps me live my days more in alignment with who I really am as opposed to solely being what the world, or my conditions wants of me.
Go easy on yourself. If you are distracted, it's okay. You are human. Sit with it. It will lessen over time.
"I get bored."
Yes. Again, you are human. It is boring as fuck sometimes to just sit there. Especially when your phone is so much more exciting.
But constantly looking at your phone, or the internet, or working is an addiction, y'all. It's a special little brand of addiction called behavioral addiction. According to research I found when writing my book, 42% of us have it (and that was in 2012! I'm sure we're at like 90% these days with these latest iPhones out).
We're become a culture of short attention span. We're modeling our societal ADD to our children and normalizing it in our families, social circles, and work places. Deep work, contemplative thought, presence, and discipline are becoming relic behaviors of the past. Tragically.
But not with you. Because meditation is how you handle your propensity to flit from one thing to another. Boredom is healthy sometimes. It creates behavioral hormesis. Meditation is how you do the work.
If you'd like to "be present" as a person in anyone's life, especially your own, it's time to prioritize meditation.
"I'm not religious."
Yes. But you are intelligent. And even an intelligent person knows that when something is scientifically proven to benefit as many categories of your life as meditation does, it is prudent to get after it.
Meditation is linked with many religions, in my experience, Buddhism. But the practice itself is not inherently religious. It is a practice in mind-training. If you would like to be the ninja you are meant to be, the mother, the boss, the friend or sister, then it's time to step up.
You need no special prayers, beads, teachers or robes.
No more excuses, my friends. There is absolutely no solid reason why meditation shouldn't be a part of your daily life. Use these tips and get after it:
Commit to two weeks at the same time each day
Use a timer
Be comfortable and sit up straight
Close your eyes to limit distractions, keep them open to stay awake
Focus on your breath at first
Notice a thought coming, label it "thought" and let it go if you get caught in a loop of thinking about something specific
Do not "try not to think." Just witness what comes, label it, then let it go.
Soften your approach, your gaze, your jaw
Stick with it
Start with 10 minutes, don't do more until after 2 weeks
If your body is uncomfortable, you can move it. But notice if this becomes a regular distraction
Be gentle with yourself
I recommend the morning