In the beginning, to those who are new to meditation, the practice can be uncomfortable. It is important to establish a comfortable posture to begin with, and that can be sitting on a cushion on the floor, a chair or even lying down if necessary. But it is important to remember that initially, the posture can be challenging. There may be some aching muscles as we strengthen them, unused to sitting up straight or taking a position that our body is unaccustomed to. Give your body time to adjust and start out practicing meditation in short periods of 5, 10 or 15 minutes, depending on your comfort level. You want to establish a practice that is easy to return to, not something that was so uncomfortable that you resist coming back to. For those who are very uncomfortable in the body, I highly recommend taking yoga. Yoga is a practice that conditions the body for meditation.
Adjusting your attitude is also important. Sometimes we approach meditation with too much seriousness. It is wonderful to be earnest about learning to practice meditation and some seriousness is important. We want to start out learning the correct posture, how to breathe properly and what to do with our minds as we meditate. However, if we are too serious about it, it creates a rigidity that can interfere with our ability to meditate. So be serious, but not too serious. Come into practice with a smile on your face, think of this as a joyful activity. It is after all, a practice that is the ultimate expression of self compassion. That is something wonderful. Additionally, by sitting down to meditate and developing self-compassion, we are also contributing positively to the world around us. How? By developing compassion for ourselves, it is much easier to act compassionately toward others. Now isn't that something to smile about?
Set up your practice of meditation for success. Come at it with an attitude of lightness and joy. While it may feel a bit frustrating at the beginning, remind yourself you are just learning and it is okay if it feels strange to begin with. Smile just slightly as you meditate, to lighten your effort. Choose short periods of meditation to begin with so you do not over tax your body--it too needs to be treated compassionately. It is okay if you feel like nothing happened or if you don't feel particularly successful at the start. The true success in meditation comes each time you sit down (or lay down) on the cushion!
A blog by Ven. Do'an Prajna and Lotus Heart Zen sangha members.
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