Life is tough. Every day, you feel pressures from your job, friends, family, and society. You worry about money, your relationships, impressing the boss at work, being accepted by your friends and family.
To make matters worse, you can't turn off your brain. It won't stop thinking, fretting, overanalyzing, questioning whether or not you're good enough—as if you must gain everybody's approval. What can you do? Well, you've heard of meditation I'm sure. You may have even dabbled in it.
And why wouldn't you? All the gurus, and even science these days, sing its praises. Of course, evidence of meditation's benefits won't help you form a practice of your own. So how can you get over the hump and start enjoying the calm and clarity meditation offers?
It all starts with a secret. Six of them, actually. Knowing these will help you finally realize why starting a meditation practice has been so difficult and help you ease into a relaxation routine of your own.
1. Know that meditation itself can cause anxiety.
Imagine a person slowly inching a finger toward your eyeball. Your head is locked in position and your eye is wide open, unable to shut. There's nothing you can do. That finger is going to poke you in the eye. Sounds pretty bad, huh?
For the first time meditator, especially those with high anxiety, you'll experience a pretty similar feeling during your first meditation session. Your anxiety will be high. You'll never want to meditate again. With that said, the extreme anxiety will lessen each time you practice.
2. Your anxiety will never completely go away.
This is surely a tough pill to swallow. In all but rare cases, meditation will not completely cure your anxiety. This advice is coming from someone who has meditated for 13-plus years. Someone who started meditating to cure his anxiety. Yes, I'm talking about myself.
But there is hope.
I no longer suffer from the general daily anxiety I had when I first started meditating. That, in fact, has completely disappeared. However, anxiety bouts still happen, as I'm sure they do to all longtime meditators.
I still get anxious when speaking to large audiences. And the fear of contracting serious diseases (I live in Thailand where dengue, rabies, malaria, and a whole slew of other life-threatening diseases are not uncommon) from a potential viral or parasite exposure drives my mind bonkers, sending me on an emotional roller coaster.
3. Yes, you DO have time to meditate.
I know this is probably hard to hear, but I'm trying to give you some tough love. If you want to meditate, all you need to do is prioritize it. Simply put, stop making excuses and just do it.
Make meditation one of your top three tasks to accomplish each day, and do it first thing in the morning. That way there's no chance of your new practice getting bumped for some unexpected activity.
4. Meditation is insanely simple.
There's good reason people get confused about what meditation is. From breathing meditation to zazen to transcendental, there's nearly two dozen different types of meditation. There's no reason to let all these styles overwhelm you, though. If you want to meditate, all you have to do is sit still. Really, it's that easy. Just be still.
In fact, you don't even need to sit. You can lie down, as well. Just get in a comfortable position and be still. This is meditation in its simplest form, and as a person who has practiced this type of meditation for years, I guarantee you it produces the anxiety calming results you're looking for.
5. Sitting still is really, really easy.
You just need to take it slow. Many newbies think they need to jump right into 10- to 20-minute meditation sessions. But this is simply untrue. As with forming any new habit, you can just do a little to get started and then build on that.
So for day one, just sit still for a minute. In fact, do that every day your first week. Then, slowly start to build up your minutes. The next week jump to two minutes, five the following week, then seven and so on.
Sooner than you know it, you'll be meditating for 10, 15, or even 20 minutes—at which point your new sense of calm will grow at an
even faster pace.
6. Meditation is not the only natural cure for anxiety.
As a long time meditator, I'm gonna tell it to you straight. There are other ways to naturally help alleviate your anxiety. Yes, meditation is great, but it's not for everyone and it's not the only option. Taking walks, spending time in nature, having a real face-to-face conversation with a good friend—all of these are exceptional ways to ease anxiety.
Part of the reason meditation is powerful is because it gives you time to process your experience. But so do all the abovementioned activities. Are you ready to feel less stressed? As someone who suffered from debilitating anxiety for most of my teenage years, I know exactly how overwhelming and bleak life can seem. But you can overcome it!
Meditation will not rid your life completely of anxiety, but you will gain more calm and clarity than you ever imagined. You will be able to breathe easy. Focus. See the bigger picture. And not let little things bother you.
How great would it be to wake up feeling excited for the day? To smile in the face of adversity, knowing that it's going to be OK? It can
be a reality.
You just need to make it a priority with meditation or another natural means. So start today and take some time for yourself. You deserve it.