An old psychologist named Albert Bandura figured out that when people don’t believe they can do something, they’re not very motivated to do it. I’d say the reason why people don’t meditate, even the ones that know it’s good for them, is that they don’t believe they can “sit still, empty their minds, and reach mystical states of consciousness.” Well, good news…that’s not what meditation is! Trust me, if you’re reading this, you have the attentional powers to meditate.
Our brains are designed to think about things, that’s what industrialized our world. What we can stand to improve however, is our ability to choose what we think about and when we think about it. Meditation is the cross-training that will allow us to do that.
If you want to meditate, try watching the activity in your mind the same way you watch a movie. Rather than getting attached to your thoughts by thinking about the what if’s of the past and making mental to-do lists for the future, simply notice that you’re thinking and then bring your attention to something in the present moment. I suggest your breath since we all have it, all the time. Breathing provides lots of different sensations to attend to e.g., air passing through your nostirls, ribs expanding, white noise, etc.
As for logistics…somewhere quiet without distractions is a good start. Being comfortable will go a long way too. Personally, I like the classic cross-legged on a pillow position. Sitting in a chair with your feet on the floor works too. Remember, our physical position influences our state of mind. Be at ease and alert in your body, and your mind will follow.
My final and most important point..let go of achieving anything. Meditating with expectations and goals will only lead to self-judgment. There is no perfect way to meditate, there is only your way. That might mean five minutes breathing in your car before you drive to work or sitting in silence on a silk pillow imported from India. It doesn’t matter how long you sit or how many times you bring your attention to the present. Just begin and be open to whatever happens or doesn’t happen.
STOP here and take one breath right now, noticing the expansion of your body on the inhale and the relaxing of your body on the exhale.
Congrats my friend, you just meditated.