I was chatting to some of my acupuncture patients a few days ago. We were talking about meditation and one of the questions they asked me was:
“How long does it take to learn to meditate?”
In their minds’ they were thinking about monks and the idea that they spend a lifetime learning meditation….but actually, you can learn how to meditate in 5 minutes!
What takes the time after that initial learning is refining your meditation skill and becoming better at being mindful. The key to doing that is having a regular practice that you do 5/6 days per week, just for 5 – 10 mins each day. It’s the regularity of the meditation practice that develops your skill. Just like trying to be an Olympic champion, you don’t become skillful without doing the practice.
The other thing that really helps with developing your skills is to have different foci for your mind to ‘rest’ on. Your mind is very easily bored and distracted. By giving it something fresh to focus on, to bring your mental awareness back into your meditation, that is what helps keep your mind fresh, interested and intrigued. In other words, having different subjects to focus on helps you stay mindful.
The gurus of the past and the present describe this mental state of “interested and intrigued” as ‘beginner’s mind’. Having a range of tools to use to give yourself that ‘beginner’s mind’ experience every time you meditate will enable you to keep your meditation practice going for a lifetime.
Examples of different meditations.
Developing your ‘Body Awareness’ can be used as a focus for meditation. There are numerous ways of doing that but here are a couple of examples:
- Focus on your ribs as you are breathing. Follow their movement as you breathe in and the movement as you breathe out.
- Become aware of how your body feels. A really great way of doing this is by observing how your back feels before and after relaxing it.
- A plant
- A flower
- A feather
- A crystal.
- You could meditate on an interesting piece of wood; the shapes, the colours, the texture. There are loads of things to keep your mind occupied when you are looking at interesting bits of old wood.
So there are 5/6 different kinds of objects and a couple of body awareness techniques you could use to meditate on. That is 3–4 months’ worth of ‘beginner’s mind’ skill building you can do quite easily. You can see that learning meditation doesn’t take a lifetime but once you’ve started the benefits can last a lifetime.
Let me know if you have a go at any of these meditations and how you get on. Or if you have any other ideas for different types of meditation, do come and share it. Stick a comment in the box below and we can all have some new focuses and new ways of keeping our ‘beginner’s mind’ fresh.
Further reading about learning how to Meditate
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