While meditation may seem like a simple and easy activity, those who have tried it will tell you that it is anything but. Many people find that meditation is a much more mentally challenging task than exercising vigorously, taking an icy cold shower, or sitting through an all-day meeting at the office.
The reason for this is that meditation requires immense willpower. To successfully meditate and achieve the deep state of relaxation and focus that comes with it, one must control their thoughts and direct their attention inward, rather than being easily distracted by the outside world or internal distractions like stress or anxiety. Strengthening one’s willpower through regular meditation practice can help make this daunting task feel more manageable, enabling one to reap the vast benefits of this healing exercise for body and mind.
The urges that cause you to want to overeat, lash out in anger, gossip, or procrastinate are the same types of urges you must learn to overcome to meditate successfully. The urge to quit is great. Your brain tries to rationalize that sitting there is a waste of time.
If you can meditate successfully, you can do just about anything. Most importantly, you learn how your mind works and how it tries to trick you into doing silly things.
Build your willpower through the practice of meditation:
1. Start with just 15 minutes per day. It’s quite simple. Just sit in a comfortable position. A firm, straight-back chair is a good option. Leaning back in a recliner can work well, too. Just be certain you can be comfortable enough to remain motionless, but not fall asleep. Sitting on the floor in the corner of the room is another popular option.
◦ Use a timer, so you don’t have to peek at the clock.
2. Focus on your breath. Close your eyes. Inhale and exhale. Count each exhalation until you reach 10, and then start over. The whole point is to focus only on your breath. Feel the air passing in and out of you. Just keep your attention on your breath. Notice the breath, but don’t think about it.
◦ Be aware of your breath, but don’t have any internal dialog about it. Don’t judge it. Just notice it.
3. Your mind will wander. It’s unlikely you’ll even count to five before a thought intrudes on your meditation. It might be about your boss, the itch on your neck, or wondering if you need to do laundry. That’s how poor your ability to focus is.
◦ When your mind wanders, bring it back to your breath.
4. Notice what happens. Notice how your mind wanders quickly. You’ll probably find that you can’t reach ten breaths even once without an interfering thought. Also, notice your self-talk. You’ll try to convince yourself that this meditation is a waste of time.
◦ Just keep doing your best until the timer alerts you that the session is completed.
◦ When the urge to quit hits you, relax and return to your breath. This is one of the most useful skills you can develop. You can use it anytime you have the urge to do something you know you shouldn’t, like eat a donut or call your ex late on Saturday night.
5. Add 10 minutes each week. Fifteen minutes isn’t easy. Twenty-five is even more challenging. Imagine what an hour is like. As your tolerance for sitting and focusing grows, keep adding time. Build up to at least an hour of continuous meditation.
6. Try to maintain the same feeling throughout the day. At the end of a meditation session, you feel pretty good. It’s the only break your brain gets each day. Try to maintain that feeling as long as possible. When you get stuck in traffic or are annoyed by a coworker, focus on your breath.
Your ability to concentrate, regardless of the distractions around you, can be built through meditation. Meditation teaches you how to overcome your learned urges and tendencies. You can develop your ability to focus. Meditation is a wonderful tool for the building will, discipline, and strength of character. It’s also 100% free!
Are you looking for a way to manage stress and live a healthier life?
Lisa Erickson is an empowerment coach and healer who can help you find the path to inner peace. In this episode, she discusses different techniques for improving your meditation habit.
If you’re looking to learn more about mindfulness meditation or meditation as a tool for healing, then this podcast is perfect for you. Lisa provides great insights and tips that will help you get the most out of your practice.
Listen to this past episode of the Meditation NOT Medicine podcast now!