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Oh No, Not Another Ten Ways to Kickstart Your Meditation Practice!

Oh No, Not Another Ten Ways to Kickstart Your Meditation Practice!

1) Meditate first thing in the morning

It’s a simple truth for most people that meditating first thing in the morning is easier. You might be tempted to leave it for later in the day but meditating in the morning means you’re working with a more rested and empty mind.

It also means you set yourself up well for the day – the commute to work will not be so bad and you won’t be such a grumps in the morning. Hell, you might even feel really happy!

2) Start doing yoga

The whole original purpose of yoga ‘back in the day’, was to prepare the body for meditation. Despite involving just sitting on your ass, you might have noticed that meditation can actually be physically quite demanding, with aches and pains a real distraction.

Yoga is the perfect compliment to meditation because it opens up the hips and strengthens the core, meaning you can sit for longer without pains creeping into your neck, back, knees, shoulders, and wherever else.

If you currently sit in a chair, you may find that yoga can help you transition to sitting in a half or full lotus position, perhaps facilitating a deeper experience.

3) Don’t get attached to notions of good or bad meditations

This is a biggy! It’s easy to think that meditation should be this or that. Especially if we read books about spirituality or blog articles by meditators, it’s easy to think that we’ve failed if we don’t experience oneness, bliss, love, light, enlightenment, energy flows and other such clichés.

This is not what meditation is about. Meditation is about the practice of observing and allowing the contents of your awareness. If you simply do this you’ve succeeded. It doesn’t matter if you feel grumpy, tired, hungry, sexually aroused, harassed by your thoughts, or united with the supreme godhead, meditation is about observation and letting go. Simples.

4) Go on a retreat

Going on a meditation retreat might seem a little intensive but it’s a great way to discover the power of meditation. When I attended my first ten day silent Vipassana retreat I was amazed how positive the affects were.

I felt more creative and inspired than ever. I was happier and more relaxed. I felt more positive about the future. Sure, the long hours spent meditating might involve a bit of discomfort but the potential ROI is big.

5) Listen to a guided meditation

If you just can’t get into it and you’re frustrated by your wondering mind, don’t worry. This is all part of the process at certain stages. Having said that, you might find it helps to gain some extra direction through a guided meditation or a binaural beats sound recording, rather than just meditating in silence.

This is how I started, and though I discarded these tools after a while they helped to first get me into my practice.

6) Go to a local meditation class

Forget books and talks, there’s no better way to learn how to meditate than to meditate. Going to local classes exposes you to different styles of meditation, forces you to actually do it, and connects you to other meditators.

You never know, you might even find some of them are nice people who become friends and motivators for your practice. At times for example, I’ve really enjoyed going to Buddhist classes as the teachings about the mind are just so bang on. See what’s happening in your town or city and sign up to an introductory course.

7) Wear earplugs

This might not sound like the most profound piece of advice you’ll hear about meditation but I promise it’s a good one. I only started doing this recently and I wish I’d done it sooner.

The world can be a noisy place sometimes, with cars, noisy kids, domestic disputes and refuse collectors all doing their best to ruin the morning peace. There is an argument for being as mindful as possible while you meditate to this soundtrack but there is also a lot to gain from meditating in peace and quiet.

Find some decent foam earplugs and discover how much deeper you can go. This is also a godsend for meditating travellers on the move, who never have to worry about another crowing cockerel again.

8) Swim, shower or drink coffee beforehand

Meditating when you are sleepy can sometimes be frustrating and counterproductive. If this is a problem, do something to wake yourself up first, particular if you’ve just been sleeping. I always jump in the shower before meditating but coffee (don’t listen to your ‘coffee is bad for you’ yogi friends) and exercise will also do the trick. Swimming is particularly refreshing if you have access to a nearby pool.

9) Set your alarm clock early

If you’re not sure how to fit meditation into your busy routine, I have a simple solution: set your alarm clock early by the amount of time you intend to meditate for plus ten minutes. It might sound like a sucky thing to do but you’ll soon get used to it, and the energising affects of meditation first thing in the morning will give you back the rest you missed.

I used to recoil at the thought of such a thing but now cannot even consider leaving for work without getting my fix.

10) Try different styles of meditation

There are many styles of meditation out there, and while no particular one can be said to be the best, there’s sure to be a style that just works better for you. If your current practice is not really doing it, try some others. It could be just the refresh you need. I found moving to an open meditation instead of concentrating on my breath did wonders. Don’t endlessly try different styles though, find what works for you.

11) Meditate everyday

Whether it’s for three or 30 minutes, the benefits of meditation stack up the more you do it. Short on time? Woke up late? Doesn’t matter. Just do what you can – a little is better than none.

Reclaiming ‘Hippie’: The Taboo of Positive Living

It seems like the more I make positive changes to my life the more I get called a hippie. Granted this is usually by friends and it might be in jest but nonetheless it points to an interesting phenomenon. The term hippie, as used today, seems to be a derogatory word, and even when it is used jokingly I think it reflects something important – that is, mainstream society’s indifference or perhaps even contempt for values that are not about doing whatever is normally done, whether or not it is good for you the individual, or the planet.

Most recently I’ve started making nut and seed milk. Yes okay, I can hear the cries of ‘hippie!’ starting already. Why? I think it’s probably not that great for a cow’s welfare to be forcibly milked all the time, at least I know I wouldn’t like it; nut milk is healthier for me too; it’s not much more hassle than going to the shop; it’s no more expensive than normal milk; it gets me closer to my food and it tastes amazing. What’s not to like?

Yet this is precisely the type of activity that is ripe for the mockery of the hippie tag, as is my thrice weekly yoga practice, healthy eating, daily meditation, interest in entheogens and probably a load of other stuff. It’s as if doing anything positive is socially unacceptable. How weird is that?! These are all really good activities, good for cows, good for my mind and good for my body, yet on hearing about them people choose to poke fun. I’m really interested in what’s going on here.

It’s not that I want to ban humour, and I’ve used the H word myself so I’m really not complaining, it’s more I’d like to point out that if we look behind this seemingly innocent jesting, we see that it conceals the way we have been conditioned to discount the value of things which are not ‘normal’, with normal meaning activities and habits that we have been conditioned to unconsciously believe are the right thing to do.

I’m thinking of the overconsumption of alcohol, the implicit support of large scale animal torture and murder, the mindless consumption of crappy TV, and addiction to food that will kill you to name a few. Most people mindlessly engage in these destructive behaviours without a thought and thus implicitly endorse all that they stand for. We all do it (even hippies), to a greater or lesser degree.

Of course there are exceptions but I find that often when someone uses ‘hippie’, even in humour, it indicates a tendency not to question the way things are, and an adherence to the conventional version of what’s right. Strangely they neglect the value of activities concerned with living as positively as possible. What is it about our culture that means we find the activities that are best for us strange and unappealing?

If people insist on using it then in response I’d like to redefine and reclaim the word hippie. No longer must we associate the term with outdated connotations of unwashed, long haired drop-outs. I’m proud to be called a hippie because to me what it stands for now is to be freethinking, to have the perception to avoid cultural brainwashing, the depth to always ask questions and the ability to step outside of the consensus trance.

It means never giving up and settling for things the way they are now, and always believing there is a better way to live. It means compassion for animals, concern for the environment and a faith in the potential inherent in humans and life. I don’t care if anyone thinks I sound like a hippie, to me it’s just the right way to live.

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