How to Start Meditating

The sitting meditation in the practice of Falun Gong. (Image: en.minghui.org)
The sitting meditation in the practice of Falun Gong. (Image: en.minghui.org)

I get this question so much from friends and family, I thought I would address it. I read a pretty cool article from Huffington Post that I really agreed with. The biggest problem people have with meditation is how to start.

It doesn’t matter what practice you go with, or if you just do your own thing, the main point is to start. That’s where so many people I have talked to get hung up. They feel like its impossible for them to get over their racing thoughts and that their distracting thoughts are somehow a reflection of how “good” or “bad” they are at meditation.

Let me set the record straight right now, meditation is not a sport—there is no winning or losing.

I have been actively meditating for 6 years now, and I sometimes still have the same racing thoughts as I had when I started. I don’t write that to discourage anybody; the difference between my thoughts then and my thoughts now in meditation is day and night. Now I recognize those thoughts as worries, or what in Buddhism they call “attachments.” I know that these, for the most part, are ephemeral, and I know to quiet my mind through the static.

Oftentimes, these racing or annoying thoughts in meditation are a good gauge to how I am living my life. It takes a lot of time and a lot of discipline to meditate for say a half hour or an hour. My advice to somebody just starting is to not be so concerned with how long you meditate for. Meditating for a long or short amount of time isn’t necessarily a reflection of how much benefit you are going to get from it.

For my friends and family that always say: “Ben, I wish I could meditate like you—I need meditation,” I say well then, go and do it. I have found in life that most times the only person stopping you from doing something is you. Don’t let your mind distract you. Start with 5 minutes, start with 1 minute. Start with whatever you can, the point is to just start.

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