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4 Tips to Bolster Your Meditation Practice

4 Tips to Bolster Your Meditation Practice


    As knowledge of meditation has grown, more and more people have turned to this ancient spiritual practice as a way to reduce stress, increase their happiness and enhance their concentration.  We now have access to a wide array of meditation guides, in formats ranging from blog posts for beginning meditators to full-length books. However, for many novice meditators, the true challenge is not getting started, but keeping their meditation practice consistent.  Here are four fundamental tips that have helped me cultivate my meditation practice over the years.

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    1.  Set Realistic Goals

    When we are first developing our meditation practice, there can be a temptation to set unreasonable goals.  We may be so entranced by our first few meditation sessions that we want to turbocharge our progress by meditating for extra long sessions and devouring every book on the practice.  In doing so, we risk the potential for a metaphysical burnout.

    Instead, consider starting with small goals, such as sitting for five minutes in the morning, and then work up incrementally.  If you add an extra minute a day, you’ll be up to a half-hour within a month.  Remember that meditation and mindfulness are lifelong practices, so try to refrain from life-changing expectations at the beginning.

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    2.  Reduce the Temptation to Be Critical of  Yourself

    One of the things that many novice meditators, including myself, struggle with at the beginning of their practice is the temptation to become their biggest critic.  Although we  strive to keep a consistent, daily meditation practice, it is inevitable that we will at times fail to sit.  Additionally, we will have meditation sessions where our concentration will be poor and our focus muddled.  We may have to stand up, readjust our positioning our even abandon our session due to some implacable distraction of the mind.

    When these situations occur, it is natural to grow frustrated and to want to castigate oneself for a lack of discipline.  We may feel that we are even reverting to poor practices that we thought we had abandoned in the past. However, if we put too much weight on setbacks, if we place too much emphasis on a momentary lack of discipline, we risk damaging our practice through our own criticism.

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    Remember that setbacks are natural part of a meditation practice, just like they are in life.  Instead of getting down on ourselves, we should use these tough moments to help strengthen our practice by watching and observing–with an detached awareness–the ebb and flow of our distractibility.

    3.  Look for Opportunities to Practice Mindfulness off  The Cushion

    Let’s face it, we’re not going to live our lives on the meditation cushion, nor do we want to.  The goal of meditation is to be able to integrate the skills that we learn on the cushion into our daily lives.  Some of this will come naturally, but often it is beneficial to exert extra mindfulness in certain situations that may be conducive to frustration.

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    Good examples are when sitting in traffic or in a line.  Instead of letting our frustration and impatience get the best of us, we can take note of the fact that we’re in a potentially stressful situation and accept that reality.  Hopefully, alongside that acceptance will be the realization that generating feelings of anger and stress are futile, as getting angry won’t move the line or decrease traffic. Then, we can do some breathing meditation to create a feeling of harmony where a feeling of frustration used to be triggered.  In doing so, we’re slowly rewiring our brain in a positive way.

    4. Find a Sangha

    Sangha is a Pali word meaning “assembly or “company” and typically refers to a group of people who meet to meditate once or twice a week.  I’ve found participating in a sangha to be hugely beneficial to my practice and many others feel the same. A regularly scheduled meditation session helps you carve out time for your practice.  Additionally, a group of fellow meditators can be a great resource for questions that you may have about your practice.

    (Photo credit: In the Lotus via Shutterstock)

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    4 Tips to Bolster Your Meditation Practice

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    Last Updated on February 15, 2019

    Why Is Goal Setting Important to a Truly Fulfilling Life?

    Why Is Goal Setting Important to a Truly Fulfilling Life?

    In Personal Development-speak, we are always talking about goals, outcomes, success, desires and dreams. In other words, all the stuff we want to do, achieve and create in our world.

    And while it’s important for us to know what we want to achieve (our goal), it’s also important for us to understand why we want to achieve it; the reason behind the goal or some would say, our real goal.

    Why is goal setting important?

    1. Your needs and desire will be fulfilled.

    Sometimes when we explore our “why”, (why we want to achieve a certain thing) we realize that our “what” (our goal) might not actually deliver us the thing (feeling, emotion, internal state) we’re really seeking.

    For example, the person who has a goal to lose weight in the belief that weight loss will bring them happiness, security, fulfillment, attention, popularity and the partner of their dreams. In this instance, their “what” is weight-loss and their “why” is happiness (etc.) and a partner.

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    Six months later, they have lost the weight (achieved their goal) but as is often the case, they’re not happier, not more secure, not more confident, not more fulfilled and in keeping with their miserable state, they have failed to attract their dream partner.

    After all, who wants to be with someone who’s miserable? They achieved their practical goal but still failed to have their needs met.

    So they set a goal to lose another ten pounds. And then another. And maybe just ten more. With the destructive and erroneous belief that if they can get thin enough, they’ll find their own personal nirvana. And we all know how that story ends.

    2. You’ll find out what truly motivates you

    The important thing in the process of constructing our best life is not necessarily what goals we set (what we think we want) but what motivates us towards those goals (what we really want).

    The sooner we begin to explore, identify and understand what motivates us towards certain achievements, acquisitions or outcomes (that is, we begin moving towards greater consciousness and self awareness), the sooner we will make better decisions for our life, set more intelligent (and dare I say, enlightened) goals and experience more fulfilment and less frustration.

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    We all know people who have achieved what they set out to, only to end up in the same place or worse (emotionally, psychologically, sociologically) because what they were chasing wasn’t really what they were needing.

    What we think we want will rarely provide us with what we actually need.

    3. Your state of mind will be a lot healthier

    We all set specific goals to achieve/acquire certain things (a job, a car, a partner, a better body, a bank balance, a title, a victory) because at some level, most of us believe (consciously or not) that the achievement of those goals will bring us what we really seek; joy, fulfilment, happiness, safety, peace, recognition, love, acceptance, respect, connection.

    Of course, setting practical, material and financial goals is an intelligent thing to do considering the world we live in and how that world works.

    But setting goals with an expectation that the achievement of certain things in our external, physical world will automatically create an internal state of peace, contentment, joy and total happiness is an unhealthy and unrealistic mindset to inhabit.

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    What you truly want and need

    Sometimes we need to look beyond the obvious (superficial) goals to discover and secure what we really want.

    Sadly, we live in a collective mindset which teaches that the prettiest and the wealthiest are the most successful.

    Some self-help frauds even teach this message. If you’re rich or pretty, you’re happy. If you’re both, you’re very happy. Pretty isn’t what we really want; it’s what we believe pretty will bring us. Same goes with money.

    When we cut through the hype, the jargon and the self-help mumbo jumbo, we all have the same basic goals, desires and needs:

    Joy, fulfilment, happiness, safety, peace, recognition, love, acceptance, respect, connection.

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    Nobody needs a mansion or a sport’s car but we all need love.

    Nobody needs massive pecs, six percent body-fat, a face lift or bigger breasts but we all need connection, acceptance and understanding.

    Nobody needs to be famous but we all need peace, calm, balance and happiness.

    The problem is, we live in a culture which teaches that one equals the other. If only we lived in a culture which taught that real success is far more about what’s happening in our internal environment, than our external one.

    It’s a commonly-held belief that we’re all very different and we all have different goals — whether short term or long term goals. But in many ways we’re not, and we don’t; we all want essentially the same things.

    Now all you have to do is see past the fraud and deception and find the right path.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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