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How to Get into the Habit of Meditation

Buddhism

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1walden_girl
Jun 16, 2008, 2:25pm Top

I'm a Buddhism n00b, and I want to make meditation an every-day habit. Any suggestions or advice from the more experienced would be greatly appreciated. Also, if you have any preferred meditation techniques or practices to recommend, that'd be awesome. Namaste!

2AnnaOok
Jun 16, 2008, 3:46pm Top

If I could manage to make meditation truly a daily habit, I think I'd be half-way to enlightenment... so I don't have tips to offer there, I'm afraid.

As for suggested practices, I think that awareness of breathing is really the foundation of any other kind of meditation. There are variants of the awareness of breathing, but they're all basically about the same thing, so I wouldn't particularly recommend one variant as against another.

Metta-bhavana and tonglen are... well, not really more "advanced", but I think they could be a bit daunting or ineffective if one didn't have a solid base of the awareness of breathing first.

As for "just sitting", or zazen, I think that is likely to be a waste of time if done in isolation and without an even more solid grounding in other forms of practice (not necessarily meditation as such) -- but then I'm not a zen buddhist, and I do know people who have started straight from zazen and never looked back...

3Arctic-Stranger
Jun 16, 2008, 6:26pm Top

I generally meditate twice a day, and the first thing you have to do is make it priority. Put it on your calendar, or appointment book, or whatever. What you do, in the end, it totally unimportant if you don't do anything. ("I don't do zazen every morning. What meditation practice do you not do?")

Focusing on breathing is good. You cannot go wrong with that, although it might wear thin over the long haul. I do a variety of things. I always center around breathing. Sometimes I do Tonglen, sometimes "Insight meditation" sometimes centering prayer or I use a mantra, sometimes visual meditation, sometimes a more "zen" style.

But the important thing is to DO IT.

4walden_girl
Jun 16, 2008, 7:04pm Top

What does "insight meditation" entail? Also, what mantra do you use, and how do you use a mantra? Mantras intrigue me, but I don't know how to start. I meditated today. Yaaaaay! Now I have to do it tomorrow.

5Arctic-Stranger
Jun 16, 2008, 7:26pm Top

Insight meditation, close to tonglen. Focus on your breathing. As your mind does what it does, label it, and go back to breathing. In other words, focus on breathing, but be aware of what your mind is doing while you do that. Imagine that thoughts are like clouds passing through your mind. Watch the clouds, but do not hold onto them.

Wandering

Hearing

Seeing

etc.

As to Mantras, any short phrase will do in my book.

Sometimes I use short prayers (I am Christian, so I use Christian prayers) such as "Lord have Mercy," but one Buddhist said you could use the words "cocoa-cola" if you wanted to.

Your mantra will come to you, in other words.

Keep it up! How long do you meditate for? I do 24 minutes.

6copperline
Jun 16, 2008, 9:40pm Top

Try Thomas Ashley-Farrand books on mantra. I recently read his Shakti Mantras and it has helped me find a mantra for my daily japa practice.

I've been a sporadic meditator for years, but not until I've done japa have I been consistent. I use a mala with 108 beads, touching each bead along the strand as I say my mantra.

Namaste.

7walden_girl
Jun 16, 2008, 10:03pm Top

well, seeing as how i only started meditating last week, i can only do about 15 minutes at a time so far. but i'm working at it! like i said: n00b. haha. thanks for the tips! i'm thinking of trying out "om mani padme hum" as a mantra.

8Arctic-Stranger
Jun 17, 2008, 11:50am Top

Start with that. Eventually you will find your mantra. Fifteen minutes is good. What can happen is that you start wanting more, and so you move up the time...but be careful, because that "wanting more" phase may not last, and then you might feel stuck with having to 30-45 mins a day, then you might start dreading it.

Meditation is not like taking insulin; you can, and should give it a break at times.

Of course if you put three meditators in a room, you get five different opinions.

9tcw
Jun 19, 2008, 10:41am Top

the first step in meditating every day is

meditate.

try this right now.

once you've gotten yourself comfortable,

continue.

Then,

to make this new again,

i suggest you read this again tomorrow.

10walden_girl
Jun 26, 2008, 11:28am Top

I've been meditating almost every day, for two weeks now. (I skipped a few days because of a long and busy roadtrip. And today I'm going to do it again. Right now! I've been kind of alternating between metta-bhavana and vipassana. I like 'em both. I might come back to mantras later, but it didn't seem to work as well when I tried it. Namaste. :)

11rstudstill
Mar 3, 2009, 2:01am Top

I'll repeat advice that's already been posted above: JUST DO IT! It helped me to keep in mind that discomfort while meditating is not a mistake. In other words, discomfort does not mean you are doing it wrong. Meditation will require -- at some point -- an encounter with the shadow, and this is unlikely to be pleasant. (That "encounter," of course, could be something that slowly unfolds over an extended period of time.) Persistence in the face of discomfort is key. If there are any Buddhist groups in your area, you might try seeking out direct meditation instruction from a teacher. I agree with the person who said that "just sitting" is not recommended as a beginner. However, after you have gained some insight into the way the mind ordinarily works, I agree with the Zen tradition and Tibetan Nyingma that "doing nothing" or "resting in the natural state" is powerful and transformative. (At that point, you realize that "doing nothing" is one of the most difficult things there is. In The Three Pillars of Zen, one Zen teacher says that you should be breaking a sweat if you're doing nothing correctly!)

Finally, meditation is a life-time dedication. It requires getting over the "McDonald's mentality" and any desire for instant gratification.

Good luck! May you gain direct and liberating insight into the true nature of reality.

12normanbr
Apr 9, 2009, 10:07pm Top

It is so quiet in here.

Is everyone meditating?

If not, want to commence a conversation?

-Norman

13WholeHouseLibrary
Apr 9, 2009, 10:25pm Top

Strange that I should happen upon this thread! I used to meditate twice a day for many years back in the 70's, and I did very well with it. I learned TM when it was relatively inexpensive. Then too much of Life got in the way, and if I meditated twice a year, I'd say it was a lot.

This morning, and again late this afternoon, I meditated for the first time in easily five years. That's just a really bizarre coincidence.

So, I'm curious -- I suspect that TM is a very basic form of meditation; or maybe it's the Wal-Mart of meditation techniques, I don't know. I ~do~ recall being taught that the mantra needs to be a word, or a "sound" that has absolutely no meaning to the meditator, or your subconscious will focus on what Cocoa-Cola (to use the example above) is, rather than empty that thought away.

14Choronzon
Jul 5, 2009, 9:02pm Top

Hi,

Can someone recommend a reputable online vendor(s) from which to buy a zafu and zabuton? Feel free to leave a private comment on my profile. TIA

15PeterKein
Oct 5, 2009, 12:58pm Top


start.
then continue.

16GoLassieGo
Jan 9, 2010, 9:47am Top

Try dharmacrafts.com

17GoLassieGo
Jan 9, 2010, 10:09am Top

Here's what has helped me maintain a daily sitting practice for 9 years or so:

- Carve out a consistent bloc of time in your day when you can sit (for me it's first thing in the a.m.; maybe night's better for you)
- Set a comfortable, private space and appropriate cushion, bench or chair--doesn't need to be anything fancy; just a place where you won't be interrupted
- A little spiritual reading beforehand can psych you up if you're feeling less motivated. I think Mindfulness in Plain English is an excellent book for beginners (and others too).
- There are many schools of meditation, different styles and techniques. In the beginning it can be confusing/overwhelming as you try to sort them out. But it's better to just pick one and stick with it rather than try to compare/contrast, and pick the "best," as this will just cause a lot of turmoil in your mind. Your choice might be affected by what's available in your area and relates to what I think is the MOST HELPFUL AND VALUABLE advice...
- If at all possible, work with a teacher, join a meditation group--connect with a community of people on the path. They will provide ongoing inspiration and support for your practice. It's pretty hard to keep it up on your own.

Good luck!

18fasciknitting
Jun 5, 2011, 5:11pm Top

I recently took a meditation class and found that the hardest part of meditating on my own was actually sitting down to do it! I appreciate all of the tips... I think I might have to join a group!

19Teerabhat.Ruensiri
Jul 7, 2011, 11:10am Top

Please excuse me for my grammar. I'm not a native.

If and only if by meditation you mean "vipassana", then I can guide you how to make exercising it your daily habit. First, you have to recognize it as something relaxing and natural. You must not see it as your duty. You can start from "observe" your body, when you take a shower, you can "know" when those smooth and cold water touch your skin. When you lie in your bed, you may "recognize" the pressure of your back that touch your bed.

Start from something like this and soon it will be in your nature. I vipassana everyday for about a two years now.

20fasciknitting
Jul 7, 2011, 4:25pm Top

Teerabhat, those are wonderful and beautiful suggestions. thank you! And you're completely right - it should be natural and not something that I feel I "should" do. Your suggestions seem like the most natural way to transition.

21Teerabhat.Ruensiri
Jul 8, 2011, 3:44am Top

Really glad I could help.

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