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Meditation: Getting started, keeping going

Meditation: Getting started, keeping going

Interested in trying meditation? Tried meditation, but not yet made it a regular part of your life?

Here are a couple of thoughts that may help.

  • The fruits of sitting meditation show up in real life, not on the cushion. Once you’ve meditated for some time you may notice that in conversation with a partner, child, or co-worker, you’re more patient. You’re listening. You discover you have more space in which to calmly consider and assist, rather than feeling a need to instantly react.Things go better at work and at home. People are clearly enjoy spending time with you, more than usual. Someone might even say, what’s up with you? You seem… happier? Calmer?

That’s because you are. How inspiring is that?

  • Meditation trains your brain and heart to exist in the present moment, so you don’t live your life thinking about yesterday or tomorrow. I love the story about the 2 friends who have dinner at a restaurant together. After they finish, one looks up and says, “What did I eat?”

    It’s such a joy to live in the now! Time lengthens, deepens, becomes richer and more full of wonder. Even the hard things are more… ok. This and that. The 10,000 joys and the 10,000 sorrows. Once we accept that this is not personal, but simply life as experienced by us human beings, and we hold it all with kindness and compassion, it’s better. Much better.

  • Start with 10 minutes a day. I once heard happiness expert Gretchen Rubin say that she tried meditating. She did 5 minutes a day, and it just didn’t work. It never got any easier. Understandably! Chade-Meng Tan, former software engineer and employee number 107 at Google (his title was Jolly Good Fellow), became a super successful mindfulness teacher and author. Meng advises starting with 10 minutes per day, since it can take 5 minutes to settle down. 5 minutes more allows you to begin to actually practice. 10 minutes is short enough to tolerate even when you are not yet accustomed to sitting — a formula for success.

Try these!

There are a world of meditations on Insight Timer, a free (and really fun!) app. Here are 4 of my briefer favorites (you will need to download the app to play them):

Sharon Salzberg, Breath Meditation (09:49)

Sharon is one of THE great American Buddhist teachers. She makes it easy to get through the 9 ½ minutes. Lean into it, and at the end you may well feel more peaceful. A good starting place.

Jonathan Lehmann, Morning Meditation with Music (10:26)

Jonathan is a happiness coach and meditation guide, and this is a very popular meditation on Insight Timer. Not Buddhist like most of my favorites, but so sweet 🙂 He has a version without music, but I prefer with.

David Gandelman, Acceptance (12:34)

David has a disarming quality of coupling a little humor with a lot of honesty. I discovered this talk when a dear friend suffering with cancer moved across country to live with her daughter. I had a feeling I would never see Jan again, which made her departure so hard. This helped.

Kevin Griffin, Present Moment Breath (15.10)

Kevin is a leader in the mindful recovery movement, and this is one of my all-time favorite meditations. He uses pairs of words (inspired by beloved teacher Thich Nhat Hahn) to keep us connected with our breathing and our bodies, rather than zooming around in our thoughts. So simple and effective.

Do you have favorite guided meditations? Please share!


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  1. Meditation has certainly changed my life and my relationships. I do a meditation with every patient just to teach them not to be afraid to sit with themselves for a few minutes. I think it is easier to meditate in the presence of others so I recommend to newbies to try to meditate in a group of they can. Thich Nhat Hanh is one of my favorite teachers. He has many simple meditations!

    • Jo

      Yes! Meditating in a group like we do with our sangha is wonderful. Someone in class this morning said, “I didn’t know there was a room like this before,” as he shared how meditating in the sangha, slowing down, cultivating concord rather than discord, and thinking about what really matters is doing for his life. Btw, is there a simple Thich Nhat Hanh meditation you especially like? Will you share the link?

  2. Susan Hardy

    Don’t just do something, Sit there.. Sylvia Boorstein 🙂

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