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5 Simple Tips to Meditate Like a Monk

5 Simple Tips to Meditate Like a Monk

Day after day, you sit on the cushion, but every time you commit to sit your thoughts pull you away. Or maybe it’s not your mind, but it’s your body: your legs fall asleep, your back starts to hurt, and pretty soon all you can think about is the tightness in your spine. Day after day this is your cycle.

You’ve heard the benefits of meditation, but you only leave the cushion more stressed out. The issue isn’t your dedication: I’d like to lay out a few tips that will help rekindle your love of meditation and maybe help you go deeper than you’ve ever gone.

1. Create a space

Sometimes we carry all of our problems, issues, and worries onto the cushion with us. Instead of starting with an open mind, we start with a mind that’s already in a fury. We’re worried we don’t have time to meditate, or it’s going to make us late for work. What we need to do is inject some space, and we can do this simply by dedicating a certain area of our room to meditation. Maybe it’s a corner that we decorate with a rug or some shrine, or a picture of our loved ones. Whatever it is, just make sure it invokes a sense of peace within you.

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Before you set foot in that space, make sure to go in with a clear head and positive intentions. Do your best to leave your problems off the cushion, or out of your corner. It might seem silly, but ask your mind if it could mellow out for a moment. Offer a reward for your mind once you’re out of meditation—just make sure to follow through.

2. Get rid of expectations

So many of us have the expectation that the moment we engage in meditation we’re going to be calm, serene, and forget about our daily stresses. When our experience doesn’t measure up to the image in our minds, then we get discouraged. Instead of letting whatever comes up arise and pass, we let ourselves get caught up. The secret is going into your practice with no expectation of an outcome. Think of this practice as allowing you to go beyond your thoughts.

Think of your thoughts as a raging waterfall; now imagine that you’re in the cave behind the waterfall, letting your thoughts flow by. There’s no need to get caught up in the stream.

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3. Don’t force or judge

This goes hand-in-hand with setting expectations for our practice. We often demand too much of ourselves, not letting ourselves ease into our new practice. We make ourselves sit for an hour every day, or at least hold the expectation we should be doing this. The key here is to demand less.

Don’t force yourself to sit if it hurts your body, and don’t force yourself to sit longer than you can endure. Instead, think of your practice as something that builds slowly over time. Start small—try five minutes a day. The benefits are more tangible and actually increase faster when you use continual steady effort, similar to compound interest.

Over time, you’ll find it easier to sit for longer and longer periods. Start small and you’ll have huge gains in the long run.

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4. Use an anchor

We expect that once we sit down and resume a posture that our thoughts will stop, as we’re seeking a state that is complete emptiness. Instead of beating yourself up every time you get taken away by the current of thought, just remind yourself to come back. This should be a gentle nudge; laugh at yourself if you have to.

The key here is to have an anchor, such as your breath. When you get washed away and start engaging in thought, just try and remind yourself to come back to your breath. What you’re doing is building awareness: The more often you realize you’re caught up in thought, the less often you’ll actually get wrapped up.

When in doubt, start to follow your breath.

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5. Use technology to drop you into a deeper state

If you’ve tried everything above and nothing seems to be working, you might need a little assistance. There’s a certain kind of audio track called “binaural beats”: what they do is play sounds at a certain frequency that your mind can align with. This is usually coupled with other relaxing sounds, such as waves crashing or birds chirping. This combination of sounds gives your mind something to focus on, while at the same time your mind syncs up with the lower frequency tones, bringing your meditation to a deeper state.

If you want to boost your meditation practice and drop into deeper states than you’ve ever been, give the above tips a try, make some space for one or two of them in your routine. Remember that the lasting benefits of meditation really kick in once you’ve established a set routine.

Happy meditating.

More by this author

Kevin Wood

Poet and Writer

How to Find Purpose in Life and Make Yourself a Better Person 7 Ways To Open Your Heart to The World 5 Simple Tips to Meditate Like a Monk The Minimalist Guide to Creativity Think Like A Genius: How Cleverness Can Save Your Life

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Last Updated on January 14, 2019

7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

From Atkins to Paleo to eating gluten-free despite not being one of the rare few people afflicted with celiac disease, fad diets are everywhere. It drives me crazy because I believe these diets do more harm than good. Your body is made up of a variety of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals, and losing weight healthily isn’t possible when you fill your body with unnecessary synthetic plastics, sugars, and powders. There’s no easy button in life.

What you need to do is exercise, which isn’t very appealing to many people. Workouts take work, so there’s already a stigma involved in going to the gym. Starting a healthy workout regimen becomes easier when you make it fun. If you want to live long and prosper, get off the couch and try these methods to turn your workout into a playout.

1. Take the scenic route.

Walking is an easy way to transition to a healthy lifestyle, and it’s free. Not only do you burn calories (check out this calculator for how many calories you burn based on your weight), but you see the world in a different way. Hiking in nature is great if you have access to it, but don’t let living in an urban area deter you from walking.

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Whenever I’m creatively stuck I get my head straight by walking a couple of miles. It’s also how I discover new paths, meet new people, and stumble upon hole-in-the-wall spots I never would have found otherwise. You could drive past the same place every day and never appreciate the beauty, nor even notice it’s there.

2. Distract yourself.

No matter what exercise routine you choose, use the time to meditate. You may wonder how marathon runners are able to put so many miles on their bodies. It’s because the pain from running that you avoid is something they’ve learned to harness to enter a transcendental state. If you’re aware of the benefits of meditation and exercise but don’t have time to do both, you can combine them, killing two birds with one healthy stone.

3. Listen to music or podcasts.

There are few experiences in life more pleasurable than turning up the music and drowning out the world around you. With so many podcasts and music apps available on your smartphone, you can easily find entertainment options perfectly suited to your personal tastes. Never worry what people may think of you when working out;instead, crank up the volume and get lost in your own world. You’ll be in shape before you know it.

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4. Bring a friend.

Some people can’t go anywhere alone. While I highly recommend dining out and seeing a movie in a theater alone, having company while exercising is very helpful. It allows you to pace yourself with someone else, and gives you a coach to motivate and push harder than you may have on your own.

Many exercises are safer when done with a friend, and some sports can only be played with another person. Involving others in your goals can mean the difference between success and failure. Just remember to continue exercising if the other person flakes, or they’ll be in control of your health.

5. Accessorize.

There are accessories that can make exercise easier, and sometimes buying a new toy can add some much-needed fun to your routine. With apps like RunKeeper and Nike+, your smartphone is capable of tracking your vitals and progress. Wrist weights can add a new dimension to your workout, and, if you exercise at night, a headlamp can help you see what’s in front of you so you don’t trip.

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For urban runners and power-walkers, one of the biggest obstacles is other people. It’s difficult to get in your meditative zone and enjoy your music when you constantly have to dodge people. To resolve this vexing issue, Runbell, a startup in Tokyo, has developed the runner’s version of the bicycle bell. With this lightweight brass bell warning people you’re approaching from behind, you’re free to maintain your transcendental state while continuing your workout. Head to their Kickstarter campaign to pledge your support.

6. Compete.

A little healthy competition can motivate you to push yourself further in your workout regimen. There are apps like Zombies, Run! which turns your run into a video game, and MyFitnessPal which allows you to connect with others in the exercise community. Whether you’re directly competing with a friend, an online community, or against your previous self, setting goals is the key to reaching them. Running with no destination can feel like an impossible task, and it’s easy to get distracted.

7. Relax.

The best part about exercising is how much you enjoy the downtime. If you think laying on your couch all day is enjoyable, it has nothing on that hour you spend as a couch potato after a rigorous workout. Jay-Z said it best, “in order to experience joy, you need pain.” The harder you push yourself while exercising, the better you’ll feel when you’re relaxing.

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With that said, don’t relax too much, or it loses the effect. It’s okay to indulge every so often. Treat yourself to some junk food you’re craving, imbibe a drink here and there, and spend a day vegging out on your couch. Staying healthy doesn’t have to be torture. Just turn down when you can and dedicate some time to better the health of your body. You only get one.

Featured photo credit: tpsdave via pixabay.com

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