By: Chris Willitts
Looking back, I can remember thinking that I wanted to give meditation a try because intuitively it seemed like something that could evolve me. And like many of my good ideas, I never got around to it. None of my friends at the time were into this mindfulness stuff, and because meditation wasn’t really mainstream, it was kind of like an “0ut of sight, out of mind” situation.
Then one day, fate (intention?) brought meditation into my life… I was tasked with developing my own meditation practice for a psychology class I was taking at the University of Michigan. What was nice about this assignment was that we were encouraged to experiment with a variety of different practices, and then decide which one/s that we would explore further. Additionally, we had to journal our experiences over a period of two weeks.
“Man is very tiny if you look at his body, man is very foolish if you look at his mind, and man is tremendously vast if you look at his consciousness. Three things meet in man. The vast, the infinite, meet in his consciousness, in his awareness. That’s what you become aware of when you meditate: boundaries recede and disappear.” ~ Osho
As I sit here recalling my first dance with meditation, it was no easy task. Quieting the mind. The impossible task, right? Our ego is so used to running the show, we don’t become aware of how dominating it is until we actually try to calm and quiet our minds. Make no mistake, chances are the first few times you try to meditate will seem virtually impossible, frustrating, and even painful. No worries though, this is perfectly natural.
Below you will find some of my personal advice if you’re curious about giving meditation a try… Come on in, the water’s nice!
START SMALL AND EASE INTO IT
- Try to meditate for only 4-5 minutes at first.
- Add one minute every 1-2 days until you can meditate at least 15-20 minutes.
- The more you practice, the easier and more enjoyable it becomes. Give it a little time and persist.
DON’T “DO” ANYTHING
- Meditation isn’t something you actually do or accomplish, it’s the state of non-doing (our natural state).
- Don’t try to get it right, or have any expectations. What happens during your session – sleep, mind wandering, insight, deep relaxation, etc. – is exactly what was supposed to happen. Just allow and let go.
- When thoughts enter your mind, be mindful of them and acknowledge they’re there. Then, gently return your awareness to your breath or mantra.
IT’S ALL ABOUT ROUTINE
- Build it into your schedule so that it’s automatic (like brushing your teeth, showering, etc.).
- Think of it as daily physical, mental, and spiritual nourishment—make it a MUST!
My challenge to you is the same one Dr. Mann (UofM Professor) gave me:
- Experiment with a few different kinds of meditation (TM, mindfulness, guided, music, etc.)
- Choose one or more practices that you would like to explore further.
- Journal your experiences over a period of two weeks (3-4 sentences).
- Craft your own customized meditation practice.
Enjoy the gift of meditating. Namaste.
Chris Willitts is the founder of Mindful Muscle and a prominent advocate of integrating mindful practices and strength training. He believes that meditation is one of the most essential things you can do for your overall state of well-being, next to nutrition and exercise.
Strength training has been a vital part of Chris’s life since his teen years. After he discovered meditation, Chris noticed a tremendous sense of strength and connection during his workouts. This higher level of consciousness helped him realize that his old motivation for strength training (nourishing his ego) was incomplete. Today, his practice also nourishes his personal growth and maturity, and serves as a vehicle to his self-cultivated spirituality.
Be sure to check out Mindful Muscle’s philosophy about mindfulness and self-cultivation www.mindfulmuscle.com