Posts in meditation
How to Start a Daily Meditation Practice
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Starting a daily meditation practice may seem easy at first for some people, but it took me four years before making it happen every day for at least a month! I thought I would share what I have learned from Tibetan Buddhism as well as my own experience on how to get this train moving everyday! So without further adieu, here are some relevant causes and conditions that helped me create and maintain a daily meditation practice.  

Help someone else who wants to meditate daily: Use the 4 karmic steps: 1. State what you want. 2. Find someone else who wants the same thing. 3. Make a plan to meet with them weekly. 4. Rejoice as you fall asleep.  If this is too much to meet weekly, start by just finding a buddy and announce to each other out loud and in person or over text: your plan to have a realistic goal: i.e. “I will meditate every day for 7 days in a row”. Then check in with each other: “I meditated for 24 minutes today how about you!?” It’s like a workout buddy, but the benefits will last many more life times than a summer in your bathing suit bod.

 

Find a Teacher. If you wanted to learn how to play a guitar would you not find someone else who knows how? Here is a list of 10 qualities of a teacher. You can also find more information from this Lam Rim retreat: “How to Find a Teacher You Can Trust”. Use your discernment with anything you learn from someone else. If you have doubts, then meditate on it! It’s better to prove things for yourself, on your cushion than accept on blind faith! Help other people find a teacher as well. That is an amazing and beautiful thing to do.

 

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Set up a space. Start with setting down a cushion (traditional cushions are filled with buckwheat), or lighting a candle, or setting up an altar. Create a space that will remind you every time you see it that something sacred is meant to happen there. Maybe you don’t sit but once a week but every time you step over that area it will remind you and the karma of habit will eventually kick in.

 

Practice. Even if it’s just 5 minutes a day. get your bum on the cushion! 

 

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If you don’t have a meditation cushion, sit on a pillow on your bed, or in a chair. Get your spine straight and meditate on something you learned from your teacher.

 

It is ideal to meditate first thing in the morning before checking your phone or talking to anyone. Maybe shower or brush your teeth and go straight for the cushion. Make it a routine just the way brushing your teeth in the morning is.

 

Be patient with yourself. If you miss your morning meditation, do it on the subway or find time at night or even in the bathroom, or over a cup of coffee. At any moment you can be meditating on something virtuous. Try to lead up to an hour a day eventually.

 

Rejoice anytime you meditate. Associate joy and gratitude with that meditation cushion. If you miss a day just rejoice that you even noticed you missed a day! That is good you are even thinking about meditation! The fact that you are even reading this article is profoundly rare. As rare and special as the turtle, who only surfaces every 100 years, poking its nose through a moving ring in the ocean.

 

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Develop Renunciation and the Wish. Renunciation is a desire to get out of the same old cyclic habits that keep us in the realm of suffering. Renounce old age, sickness, birth and death or maybe you renounce a cycle as simple as the same old argument you keep having with your significant other, boss, or family. The Wish is the Wish for your own Enlightenment for the sake of all beings (See class 2 ACI course 10 for benefits of The Wish for Enlightenment). Meditating on these ideas are are great motivators to keep a consistent practice.

 

Practice Death Meditation If you were going to die today, would you not meditate even for just 5 minutes on this possibility, to think about what you would take up during your day or let go of ? Even just meditating on the fact that we cannot know when death will arrive helps us find joy and make the most of the day. When you wake up still alive and rejoice in this fact, you will eventually realize how this precious human life, has the perfect amount of suffering and happiness so that we seek out wisdom.  You can find many different 5 minute death meditations in this recent Lam Rim Retreat, the Unsurpassable Life with Geshe Michael Roach.

 

*If you are serious about being a Buddhist, Take Refuge vows after studying them with a qualified teacher. I started my regular, daily, morning, meditation practice right after I took refuge vows.

 

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Jacquelyn Autrey is a student of Hector Marcel and Geshe Michael Roach; a yoga and meditation teacher at The Three Jewels, New York City,; a freelance writer; and an art consultant.

3 Tips To Start (and Keep) a Daily Meditation Practice
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[fusion_text] I am an expert at starting my meditation practice. I have stopped so many times that I've had to start again many many times. Sometimes after a few days, sometimes after a few of months.

As a New Yorker, it’s very easy to get caught up in the ‘busyness’ of our ‘hectic lives’, and we don’t realize that we can still live like New Yorkers without having to feel ‘busy’ and ‘hectic’ by keeping a daily meditation practice.

Here are the three main things that I have found help me keep consistency in my practice:

1. Make it a (good) habit, not a priority.

When something becomes a task, one which we need to schedule and think too much about, then we will have to find ourselves choosing between one task or the other when time gets tight.

When it’s a habit, not the destructive kind, but the one that we do everyday because you enjoy it, then it becomes part of our flow in the day. We would never think: brushing my teeth is not a priority today, or no bathroom time today, I am in a rush.

How to do this: if You observe your morning routine, I bet there is something useless that could be replaced by at least a few minutes of meditation. Facebook? News? The Snooze Button?

Let’s say we can only shave 5 minutes in the morning to start. Perfect! Next week You will add one minute to that for a 6 minutes., and then one more minute the week after. If You keep at it, in a year You can be meditating an hour a day without radically changing your life!

2. Be forgiving, not punishing.

Sometimes we will not get those ideal 30 minutes in, or 15 minutes in, or even 3 minutes in. Maybe because we were lazy, or sick, or on vacation.

Don’t use "missing a day", or a few days, as an excuse to feel like you failed. Here is a great secret: there is no failing in meditation!

How to do this: Just like when our attention wanders off the breath in a shamatha meditation, and we are supposed to note it and gently bring it back to the breath, in that same way we need to note to ourselves that we missed the day or the week, and just get back on the cushion, gently, no judgement, no stories around why, be kind and compassionate to our past self who couldn’t find a way to do it.

3. Find ways to remind yourself why You do it.

This is probably the most important. We need to know why we are doing what we are doing. If the why is too small and not present, we will probably stop doing it and never get back to it. But when there is a clear why, a clear reason for why we are meditating, we are more likely to keep at it.

It could be a personal reason like being less stressed, being more focused, becoming a happier and more compassionate person. This will only happen if we do it consistently, just like physical exercise will only help you build muscle and burn fat if you do it on regular basis.

We can also make the “why” a huge “WHY”, something like: to attain enlightenment for our own liberation and the liberation of every sentient being - then, we will certainly never stop. Maybe we'll miss a few days here and there, but never stop.

How to do this: Find way to keep the reasons in your mind. I go to classes, read and listen to podcasts related to meditation and Buddhism. I debate with friends. I make a point to have at least one or two daily contacts with teachings. This can be in the form of a quote on my Facebook feed, or in the form of an actual teacher sitting in front of me, telling me what to do.

What have You found helpful to build and keep Your daily practice? I would love to know! You can email me at:  javier@ourbusyminds.com with your ideas.

I hope You find this information helpful. If You did, please share with someone You think might find it helpful too.[/fusion_text][fullwidth background_color="" background_image="" background_parallax="none" parallax_speed="0.3" enable_mobile="no" background_repeat="no-repeat" background_position="left top" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_webm="" video_mp4="" video_ogv="" video_preview_image="" overlay_color="" overlay_opacity="0.5" video_mute="yes" video_loop="yes" fade="no" border_size="0px" border_color="" border_style="" padding_top="20" padding_bottom="20" padding_left="0" padding_right="0" hundred_percent="no" equal_height_columns="no" hide_on_mobile="no" menu_anchor="" class="" id=""][/fullwidth][one_full last="yes" spacing="yes" center_content="no" hide_on_mobile="no" background_color="" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" background_position="left top" border_size="0px" border_color="" border_style="" padding="" margin_top="" margin_bottom="" animation_type="" animation_direction="" animation_speed="0.1" class="" id=""][/one_full]