There are lots of ways to meditate, and in this module we’re not going to learn even a small amount of them. What we’ll learn is a very simple meditation method, designed to help you form the habit.
Once you have the meditation habit formed, you can experiment with different styles. For now, let’s keep it as simple as possible.
You might have already made a plan, and maybe you’ve already meditated for a couple of days. That’s great, but I’d like you to adjust you plan based on what I have below.
Here’s the plan that I recommend start with for this month:
- The habit: You’re going to meditate for 2 minutes every morning, for the first week at least.
- The trigger: I highly recommend finding a trigger in the morning, as this tends to work best for habits like meditation. Why? Because if it’s later in the day, it will usually get pushed back when other things come up. Choose a trigger that’s already in your daily routine that youâ€™re going to tie the habit to. Examples: waking up, drinking your first cup of coffee, eating breakfast, brushing teeth, showering, using bathroom in the morning, opening your computer for the first time, arriving at work.
- Reminder(s): How will you remember? Physical reminders near where your trigger is are often best â€” put a note to meditate next to your coffee maker or on your laptop. Phone or computer reminders are good backup reminders.
- Accountability: Who will hold you accountable for your commitment? How will you report to them?
- Commitment: Firmly commit to others that you’ll do this habit for one month. Setting a big consequence for not meeting this commitment can be helpful.
- Log: Will you log this habit? How? Will you share it with anyone?
- Finally: Who will you share the plan with? Write out this plan, and share it with someone. Email it to them, or share it via Google Docs.
Your plan will have other things in it as you evolve it, with the weekly review. We’ll get to that later.
Some Meditation Instructions
I’ll share a video for how I recommend meditating soon, but for now, I recommend the following practice:
1. Find a quiet spot. Sometimes early morning is best, before others in your house might be awake and making lots of noise. Others might find a spot in a park or on the beach or some other soothing setting. It really doesn’t matter where — as long as you can sit without being bothered for a couple minutes.
2. Sit comfortably. Don’t fuss too much about how you sit, what you wear, what you sit on, etc. I personally like to sit on a pillow on the floor, sometimes with my back leaning against a wall. Others who can sit cross-legged comfortably might do that instead. Still others can sit on a chair or couch if sitting on the floor is uncomfortable.
3. Start with just 2 minutes. This is really important. Most people will think they can meditate for 15-30 minutes, and maybe they can. But this is not a test of how strong you are at staying in meditation — we are trying to form a longer-lasting habit. And to do that, we want to start with just 2 minutes. You’ll find it much easier to start this way, and forming a habit with a small start like this is a method much more likely to succeed. You can expand to 5 minutes if you can do the 2-minute meditation for 7 straight days, then 7 minutes if you can do it for 14 straight days, then 10 minutes if you can stick to it for 21 straight days, and 15 if you can do a full month. But don’t increase your meditation time unless you didn’t miss a day the previous week.
4. Focus on your body and breath. First notice your body — are you sitting up straight? Can you feel your “sit bones” (in your butt) beneath you? Are your ears, shoulders and hips aligned? Now check in with your breath. As you breathe in, follow your breath in through your nostrils, then into your throat, then into your lungs and belly. Sit straight, keep your eyes open but looking at the ground and with a soft focus. If you want to close your eyes, that’s fine. As you breathe out, follow your breath out back into the world. If it helps, count … one breath in, two breath out, three breath in, four breath out … when you get to 10, start over. If you lose track, start over. If you find your mind wandering (and you will), just pay attention to your mind wandering, then bring it gently back to your breath. Repeat this process for the two minutes you meditate. You won’t be very good at it at first, most likely, but you’ll get better with practice.
And that’s it. It’s a very simple practice, and in this module we’re going to focus more on forming the habit of meditation than on getting it perfect or learning any particular kind of meditation.
Note: If you’ve been meditating for awhile, here are some advanced meditation options.