“How to make meditation easier?”
Let’s be honest. You can’t.
It’s just not for you. You have tried everything and skimmed through various fancy techniques. Yet, none of it worked. Right?
Meditation is boring, stressful, and unproductive. In the end, all you are left with is drowsiness and a head full of guilt.
I get it. It’s not easy.
But what if you are making it harder than it needs to be?
That’s what she said!
No. You are not unteachable. You are just following the wrong sets of advice.
Coming from an Indian Hindu family, I was made to sit and meditate for hours. Most of the time, I would doze off. So yeah. It didn’t work.
How could it? Like most people, I, too, was following flawed instructions.
Years later, I stumbled across this crazy effective method from my therapist. Later on, I tossed in some of my own studies and techniques to make it even more effortless.
Now, I’m at a level where I can meditate even while on chaotic public transport.
You can do it too. But first, we must talk about the very thing that makes meditation a nightmare for most people.
Biggest Mistake: Trying To Achieve Thoughtlessness
Often people feel that meditation is hard because they believe they should be fighting their thoughts, or actively trying to empty the mind.— Courtney E. Ackerman, MSc., 10 Reasons Why People Don’t Meditate
Let me be blunt.
If someone instructs you to ‘empty your mind’ as a meditation lesson, ask for a refund, and get the hell out of there.
The guy knows nothing about meditation or the human mind.
Thoughtlessness is easier said than done. Even the most advanced meditators have a hard time getting there.
The more you resist thoughts, the more they clamor to get your attention. You are a thinking machine, having up to 60 to 80 thousand thoughts per day!
Now, imagine being told to do something as a beginner that even the most experienced meditators find stressful. What are the chances that you could do that?
Want to make it easier? Scrap ‘thoughtlessness’ in favor of ‘focus.’
Believe it or not, with some tricks, you will find it much more actionable to focus on something than trying to pretend it doesn’t exist.
How to do that?
First, you must find your ‘why to do it?’
Incentivize Meditation: Define Your “Why”
It’s not just wrong techniques failing you. It’s also about you (subconsciously) not wanting to do it.
You don’t want to meditate because there are no instant rewards. So you make excuses. You fail intentionally. And no amount of good techniques can teach you something that you don’t want to learn.
Therefore, it’s crucial to set your motivations beforehand.
You have to want to do it. Not only that, but you must also know why you want to do it.
He knows the “why” for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any “how”.― Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
That’s not just a pretty quote. Modern science backs it up as well.
Even today, our actions and behaviors are different variations of the reward and punishment model.
Sure, reading articles on why you should meditate is cool. But what they don’t account for is what is your personal stake. Why you specifically should meditate.
They don’t say it because they can’t. Only you can. Here’s how.
Start with the end results, both the positive and the negative ones. And they will work as your motivators:
Positive motivator: What is the result you want to achieve through meditation? How do you want to feel?
Negative motivator: What will you lose if you don’t meditate? How much would you suffer in the long run?
That’s how you get your drive to get it done. That’s how you define your ‘why.’
So let’s talk about the ‘how.’
How To Strike & Maintain Focus: The 3 Step-Technique
As I mentioned earlier, focusing on something is far more efficient than ignoring everything. But focusing isn’t easy either. Especially if you don’t know what to focus on, isn’t it so?
So what do you focus on while meditating?
Well, you have three options. Here, let me run through each of them.
There’s a reason I prefer focusing on my breathing over guided meditation sessions. It’s because I find the latter pretty disruptive.
If you are anything like me, imagining an abstract ball of light or keeping up with the vocal instructions tends to get rather stressful instead of relaxing. On the contrary, focusing on my breathing lets me stay in the moment.
Here I prefer the 4–4–4–4 box breathing technique. In it, you have to follow these four steps:
Step 1: Take a deep breath through your nose. Count 1 to 4 while doing it.
Step 2: Now, hold it in for another 4 seconds.
Step 3: Next, let it out, emptying your stomach while counting 1 to 4.
Step 4: Keep it empty for four more seconds.
Keep repeating it for as long as you want.
This technique works wonders as it glues your attention to your breathing pattern. It allows you to achieve a level of stillness without having to empty your mind.
When it comes to meditation, silence isn’t always your ally.
Imagine you are trying to meditate in your nice, quiet room. Then, out of nowhere, a trucker passing by, the kids next door, and the pit bull across the road team up and explode.
It’s still nice and quiet in ‘your room.’ But you can’t do much if it’s not outside your premise, can you?
These are the times when you need a barrier to shield you from such distractions.
Unfortunately, making your room soundproof isn’t an option. It will be too expensive. Do you know what’s not? A pair of headphones.
Plus, when you meditate with your preferred music, you stand a higher chance of reaching the flow state.
Never underestimate the power of smell.
What you smell affects how you behave — much more than you would suspect. So much so that if you learn to detect what scents work for you, you can use them to reach your intended state of mind.
Therefore, if you struggle to relax while meditating, using the right fragrance of essential oil or incense stick will help your mind de-stress.
The Effortless Trick To Keep Yourself From Slacking Off
As much as I would like to trash the concept of thoughtlessness, it was put in place for a reason.
There is a core problem that we must address.
If you have ever tried and failed to take on meditation, you will find it relatable.
More than often, when beginners try meditating, their minds take them to all the embarrassing, stressful, and downright traumatic events of their lives. That’s why most beginners give up on meditation so fast.
That’s where the idea of avoiding thoughts comes from.
Whereas the problem is very much real, the solution is impractical.
So how to solve it?
First of all, by using the techniques I described here, you significantly cut down the chances of your mind ever drifting off while meditating.
Second, whenever you feel like your mind is gravitating toward negative emotions, feel free it call it off for the day.
Always remember this. As a beginner, you are better off prioritizing consistency over the duration.
As Andy Puddicombe quotes:
10 minutes a day, every day of the week, is likely to be far more beneficial than 70 minutes on one day of the week.
Consequently, you can shorten the duration during one of such bad trips as long as you show up the next day with the same conviction.
Once you strike your consistency, meditation only gets easier and easier with time.
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