First thing you might experience, as you attempt to dip your toes in meditation, is getting thrown in the deep. You join a mediation group that gathers once a week to sit in a circle and mediate. Yeah, you might have guidance from a leader, but, still, they make you sit motionless, with your eyes shut, silently, focusing on your breath for 20 minutes.
You skipped the doggy paddle and went right to swimming laps.
But that is not an effective way to learn. Doesn’t work in the water, doesn’t really work in mediation. It’s awkward, uncomfortable, doesn’t make sense, it’s frightening even, and you’re not likely to show up too many times more. As a result, many people think they are bad at mediation.
Why not learn through a process of incremental steps like we learn just about everything else?
Why not start with a much shorter period of time? Why not start with our eyes open?
Meditation for beginners could look like this:
Part I: 3 weeks
Sit still, with calm, quiet music playing for 2 minutes daily. Breathe and relax. (Eyes open and wandering around the room wherever they go.
Part II: 3 weeks
Sit still, in silence, for two minutes daily. Breathe and relax. Eyes open as before.
Part III: 3 weeks
Sit still, in silence, for two minutes daily. Breathe and relax. Eyes open. Tune in to the sensations of your body: pressure, heat, discomfort, and other sensations.
Part IV: 3 weeks
Sit still, in silence, for two minutes daily. Breathe and relax. Eyes closed. Tune in to sensations of your body and breath.
Congratulations!! You’ve completed Level 1!!!!
Now, on to level 2.
Level 2 can include adding a minute for a few weeks, or adding several minutes and reverting back to eyes open for a while.
Level 3 goes further.
The point, really, is a gradual, incremental process of developing your mediation practice and skills. Silly that we don’t do this. Perhaps it’s an ancient system that needs to be updated. We can both honor the wisdom of tradition and update.
Learning about mediation can proceed step by step as well. No need to take a giant leap to closing your eyes for a long time, let alone understanding the monkey mind, or the profoundness of inner silence right away.
You can be a beginner at non-judgement; you can be a beginner at not twitching and moving; you can be a beginner at doing “nothing”; you can be a beginner at training your mind and developing peace of mind; it’s easy to see at first glance that these things are all challenging, some very.
And it would be helpful if we taught and learned meditation appropriately–as a slowly building process.