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Basic Meditation Tips To Exercise Self Control

I’ve been meditating off and on over the course of a few years now, and I feel like I’m coming to a much better understanding of what meditation is. I suspect many people quit meditation because it fails to meet their expectations or they feel meditating is too hard to practice properly. I hope a description of my experience will encourage those of you who feel they are struggling.

I practice a type of meditation wherein I focus on breathing deeply and rhythmically while (also) observing any thoughts in a non-attached way.

Rhythmic and deep breathing is important. It creates a biological feedback loop of relaxation. It allows for clearer thinking. Want to know the how and why? Watch this neuroscientist explain at a TED event:

Non-attachment is a core meditation practice. I think it helps to think of it as an helpful part of your daily care. (This is instead of thinking of it as a skill that you are either good at or bad at). Jon Kabat (author of Where Ever You Go There You Are) compares it to brushing your teeth. Most people don’t walk away from brushing their teeth thinking how great a job (or how bad of a job) they did. Brushing is merely a practice that creates benefits regardless of how perfectly your practice.

In practical terms, you try to see your thoughts and feelings as legitimate, but temporary states. You try to let them pass through your mind without latching on to them and ruminating. I think it helps to think of all the times you have been upset only to have gained some perspective or gotten a good night’s sleep. See how temporary our emotional states are? Thinking in this way helps you to let your thoughts go.

But even so, as you sit there still and breathing you will have a lot of thoughts pop up. You will latch on to some of those thoughts and ruminate. After all the time I have spent meditating I still have to resist attachment. But, it’s ok. Merely trying to cultivate non-attachment is meditation. Regardless of how many thoughts you don’t let go (or do let go) the practice will still benefit you.

As I have practiced I have learned that it is easier for me to let go of a thought if I imagine it as a man walking in leather soled shoes (they make a distinct clicking noise) in an empty hall way. I imagine that man walking right out the door, the echoes of his footsteps falling behind him. Most times the thought disappears with the man.

And, ever so occasionally, after sending so many of my thoughts out the door I reach a clear state of mind. And let me tell you this is a wonderful place to be. The funny thing is: if I want to reach this state too badly, I have to send that desire out the door too. You can’t even get too attached to non-attachment! Which I think is great. You teach yourself to be ok with yourself in whatever state you are in. You’re angry? OK, that’s legitimate, but temporary. Let it walk out the door.

Remember, it is about the journey. Not the destination. Be proud that you have tried and keep on trying!

There are a lot of types of meditation. The kind that works best for me is called mindfulness meditation. The basic instruction is this:
  •     Sit quietly with eyes closed, either in a chair or on the floor.
  •     Focus on your breath, whether at your abdomen, chest, or nostrils.
  •     If a thought, sound, body sensation, or emotion pulls you away, then bring your attention to it — investigate it in your body. Does a thought give you tightness in your chest? Does an emotion make you clench your jaw? Notice your body’s reaction. When it no longer holds you, return to the breath.
…and that’s about it! Of course, it’s harder than it sounds.

Studies show measurable changes after only 6 minutes of meditation a day. You can increase the time as you get more comfortable: I now try for 30 minutes a day.


Your experience may differ from mine, but that’s legitimate, too. Every one finds their own way.

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