I’m not disciplined. Can I still meditate?
Yes, you can. Meditation teaches you discipline. It doesn’t require discipline.
I used to think I couldn’t meditate because I wasn’t disciplined. I kept trying to meditate, but it never stuck.
One day, I noticed that I had a ton of thoughts and sensations all wrapped up in the story I was telling about how undisciplined I was. As I became more fascinated by those experiences, I suddenly realized I was meditating (even while simultaneously telling myself a story about how I wasn’t disciplined enough to meditate).
When you meditate, you’ll start seeing those kinds of paradoxes for yourself. That will make it easier to keep meditating.
So, get started.
Is background music bad for meditation?
In No Problem, there’s music. That’s because it’s easier for beginners to use music (it makes the time go by faster).
Personally, I don’t meditate with music. That’s because I want to focus more on the sensations I’m experiencing, and music distracts from that.
But, at the end of the day, you have to learn both. When I listen to music, I meditate.
So, get started with meditation by using music. When you’re ready, meditate in silence.
Timers feel too restrictive to me. Do I have to meditate for a fixed amount of time?
Timers make meditation easier.
I used to hate the meditation timer. It felt like it was way too slow and taunting me with every second that passed.
One day, I was so frustrated with my meditation because I couldn’t sit still comfortably. I couldn’t find any way to fix that, no matter how I adjusted my posture. I was ready to quit, and then in a last-ditch effort I said “I’ll just sit here until the timer runs out and not meditate.”
Well, it turns out that time was spent meditating. That’s when I realized the timer is my friend. I can trust the timer to keep track of the meditation for me, so I don’t need to be my own taskmaster.
Such a load off my shoulders.
If, at any point, I’m not feeling comfortable with my posture, or feeling uncertain about the technique, I can just rely on the timer to let me know when it’s OK to stop trying to meditate.
I heard I should be meditating for an hour at a time? I can’t do that. Will shorter sits do anything?
Yes. Even one second of meditation is beneficial.
One time, I was practicing calligraphy along with a metronome (each click was one downstroke of the pen). I kept getting distracted, and the rhythm of my writing got out of sync with the metronome.
Being a meditator, I noticed this immediately. So, I started meditating while writing. My focus became the awareness of the synchronization between the pen and the metronome, rather than the appearance of my writing.
Right away, it got back in sync.
Don’t discount how much benefit you get from even one single moment of mindfulness.
I can’t sit still for the entire length of the meditation. What am I doing wrong?
Not being able to sit still is not a reason to avoid trying to meditate.
Meditation teaches you how to sit still. Being able to sit still is not a prerequisite for meditation.
I used to not be able to sit for more than 5 minutes. One day, I was sitting and I was so bored and was ready to stop meditating. Probably 5 minutes had passed. I suddenly noticed what my boredom felt like. I could see and feel clearly in my body. I became interested in the boredom (paradox!), and I got absorbed in it. Because I was fascinated by the boredom, I was no longer bored.
When I opened my eyes, I was shocked to see that 30 minutes had passed.
I can’t make meditation into a consistent habit. What am I doing wrong?
You’re not doing anything “wrong”.
A consistent meditation habit is the result of meditation, not the prerequisite. Stop telling yourself stories about how bad of a meditator you are, and instead use that time to meditate. It will pay off much better.
I used to tell myself stories like that all the time.
One day, I was in the middle of such a story, and I suddenly realized I could sit and meditate even while telling the story(paradox!).
So, I sat down and kept telling the story, and started meditating.
That’s when I saw that you don’t have to have a meditation habit in order to meditate. And every time I do that, it becomes easier to sit and meditate. That’s where the habit comes from in the first place.