Learn to Meditate the Hard Way
We meditate each day without thinking or realizing it. Yet, when one attempts to meditate, it becomes difficult. It is a dilemma we all face.
Many will offer to teach shortcuts, secrets and guides on how to accomplish difficult tasks with ease. Unfortunately, the easy path produces quality equivalent to the effort put in; this is true whether using exercise or dieting to lose weight. In this article, I will offer suggestions to learn to meditate the hard way. We will look at some of the standard offerings, such as guided meditation, soothing sounds, and meditation music—all of which are distractions for your mind.
While it is true you can learn to meditate with easier methods, don’t rely on them long term throughout this incredible journey. Learn to grow your meditative states, and don’t expect them always to be pleasant restorative sessions. Just as you wouldn’t expect to build muscles with ease, it is the same with increasing your ability to meditate.
The Use of Distractions in Meditation
You can use guided meditation to attain a more relaxed or altered state. In almost every aspect, it appears that you are meditating—you’re sitting or lying down, eyes closed, and quieting the mind—but are you getting the full benefits of meditation? Guided meditation is an effective way to become more conscious of your body, breathing, and learning to relax. And it’s not so hard, right? It’s not like sitting cross-legged and meditating in a quiet room, which can be incredibly dull. Guided meditation can be a great distraction for your mind, and it enables you to put off facing your mind head-on—which is where the most significant benefits are, although challenging to face and endure.
Binaural Beats and Meditation Music
Although binaural beats and meditation music are great tools for relaxation, it has similar drawbacks as guided meditations. It can be useful in altering your consciousness and be used to help induce out-of-body experiences or lucid dreams.
Please note that although I am describing them as distractions, it is not to say they are wrong methods or not useful; they can be incredibly effective tools in achieving relaxed and altered states, and I’ve used them many times. Eventually, though, it became the regular path for me, as it was an easy way to relax and quiet the mind to some degree. It produced inferior results, and over time I lost the discipline that I once had for achieving deep meditative states.
How to Meditate the Hard Way
A common form of traditional meditation is to sit in a quiet place without any distractions—no guided meditation, sounds, or music—just yourself. Keep your focus on your breath. Follow it deep into your lungs and back out as you exhale. Your breathing doesn’t have to be forceful; it can sometimes become shallow—just let it flow.
At times, you will face the boredom and the chaos of your mind directly. The body will rebel with all its discomforts that it will throw at you, but you will persevere and resist. If you are new to meditation, that battle often starts before you meditate; the mind finds reasons why you should put it off for another day. The truth is that when you don’t want to meditate—that’s the best time to do it! Even if only for a short time, you at least build up some discipline over your mind.
Beware of thoughts, such as “Maybe I’m not doing it right” or “It’s not working.” Every time you are meditating, it is working! Your mind will bring up any of your problems, in one form or another. Recognize them, accept them and then let it go.
When I first started meditating, focusing on my breath felt uncomfortable and unnatural. Over time, it became more comfortable, but even after many years, it can feel strange during the beginning of a meditation session—especially if experimenting with different breathing techniques.
At the beginning of a meditation, deep breathing is a great way to clear your lungs and enrich your body with oxygen. To do this, breathe in deeply through your nose and hold the air in your lungs for 5-10 seconds. Exhaling can be done through your mouth as if letting out a big sigh. Another method is to exhale through the nose. I tend to do both methods but experiment with it and see how it feels.
Benefits of Meditating Without Distraction
One benefit of meditating without distraction is that it allows you to get into a deeper meditative state. Now you have to face yourself head-on and actively let go of your thoughts and desires, and there’s no reprieve of music, guidance, or peaceful sounds to fall back on. Here are some benefits of meditating without distractions:
- Avoiding distraction is a faster way to go in a deep meditation state.
- The deeper the meditation, the more profound the experiences can become.
- Deep meditations can produce more restful sleep.
- Quieting the mind without distraction builds greater endurance and discipline.
Although I’ve described meditating as a “battle” or “struggle,” it doesn’t mean that it always has to be that way. It is better to let go of thoughts and discomfort rather than battle with it—acknowledge it and let it go. Despite letting go, it can still be a struggle or “fight” to keep the meditation going. Yet, by persevering through this, I’ve experienced great results.
To make it clear, I’m not saying that you should avoid the various meditation tools available these days, but beware of the limitations they have. There’s a time and place for each method, and it’s great to experiment with them. Do be wary of becoming too reliant on them, though.
How did you learn to meditate? Please feel free to share your methods in the comment section below!