Meditation is both easy and difficult. Meditation can be difficult because it requires a certain amount of discipline. You have to take the time to sit and actively focus on the activity. Once you get this part figured out it becomes easier, we just have to overcome the excuses and sit in meditation. Meditation then becomes an activity of minimal effort, in fact the harder you try, the less it seems to work. Regular practice with some guidance helps you learn to be in the moment and experience the full benefits.
If meditation is so easy, why do you need a teacher? Many people try various kinds of meditation and soon quit saying, “it just didn’t work for me.” A teacher will help you see and work through the various obstacles you’ll face as you build your practice. A teacher is someone who can help you understand and work through the difficult stretches and encourage to keep going. You learn to let it be and accept rather than fight your way through. Reaching a state of relaxation or clarity through meditation is something that can’t be forced.
After you learn the basics and establish a consistent practice, your relationship with your teacher shifts more to support as needed and then to slowly expand your practice to include other meditation techniques and processes. This advanced teaching also includes how to incorporate mindfulness and the benefits of meditation into your everyday life.
So how do you know when you’re ready to start? You simply have to trust that you’re ready and now is the best time to start. There’s no special preparation needed, it’s just of matter of deciding you want meditation in your life. There are no supplies, no tools, special clothing or anything needed to start. All that is needed is a few minutes of time and a place to sit where you won’t be disturbed. You might prefer a special cushion or perhaps a shawl or blanket to wrap in, but they are certainly not necessary to meditate effectively. A simple place to sit such as a comfy chair, the floor, a kitchen chair, or whatever works best for you. Many people use their time on buses and trains to meditate. As you progress you’ll discover your preferred methods.
While having a regular chair or special shawl is not necessary, it may add an element of ritual that helps ground you and set the tone for your meditation. This can help to shift your attention from the tasks of the day and serve as kind of a reminder to the brain that we’re doing this quiet activity. But remember, don’t try too hard—minimal effort. The benefits come from within, not from a fancy robe or cushion.
Getting started is easy. Developing the discipline to sit every day is perhaps the hardest part. We’re very good at making excuses and it takes a bit of time to start experiencing the benefits, but excuses rarely hold water when we examine them. So now is the time to start, sit breathe, and be present.