May marks the start of National Meditation Month 2018.
Every day I hear someone say, “I should meditate.” Usually followed by a but (insert your but here). The buts are basically the same.
I should meditate, but:
- It’s too difficult.
- I don’t have time.
- I can’t stop my thoughts.
As a mentor and meditation teacher, I listen and usually share insights as to why these particular buts aren’t true. For example:
- Meditation is easy and effortless. The less you do in meditation, the greater the benefits. (If you don’t believe me, we haven’t meditated together, yet.)
- Science shows that time spent in meditation will actually give you back the time you spend doing it.
- Meditation is not about stopping or forcing out thoughts. It is about noticing your thoughts. Just as you might notice the color of your shirt. You notice it and go back to what you were doing.
Let’s say that you identify with some of these same issues. Read these…
Sometimes the lightbulb goes on. Even the most convinced “I could never meditate” people start to meditate effectively and instantly de-stress.
For me, it happened when I heard Deepak Chopra explain that thoughts during meditation are not obstacles, they are simply a sign that stress is being released. That simple statement transformed my life.
For others, they continue to believe the reason they don’t meditate is because of what follows the but. The setback, however, isn’t but. The real problem is should.
We all should life. I should meditate. I should take a break. I should move, get more sleep, eat healthier, spend more time with my friends and family, etc….
Here’s the problem with should. It is infused with obligation and criticism. What you want, on the other hand, is filled with desire, hope, and inspiration. Naturally you find alternative ways to make your wants and desires come true. Wants draw you toward them. Shoulds pull you farther away.
Shoulds aren’t fun. No one likes them. They are daunting. They feel obligatory. They hang over you and ultimately stop the natural flow of energy.
Try this exercise to embrace your wants and eliminate shoulds.
Visualize How Your Life Will Be Different
Let’s say, you want to get more sleep. You know after a full eight hours of sleep, you wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and clear-minded.
Imagine yourself waking up before your alarm. You easily and happily get out of bed. The morning sun is shining through the window.
As you start your morning routine, your mind drifts off to new possibilities. Solutions spontaneously come to you.
You feel energized and unstoppable. You are twice as productive. You even look back wondering how you found time to enjoy a wonderful conversation that you never expected to have.
Close your eyes. Ask yourself, what do I want? Skip ahead and visualize the results of what you truly want.
Go ahead. Zoom in on the details. Watch, like a movie, how different your life will become as result of having what you want?
Shift Your Focus to Action
After you have visualized how your life will be different, think of what you can do to make this want a reality.
Let’s use the example above that you would like to get eight hours of sleep each night.
Maybe that seems like a stretch. Your first step is to notice. Next, prioritize. Lastly, be kind.
- Notice what is going on in your life that has to be adjusted for you to have what you want.
- Prioritize your wants. The wants that fall toward the bottom of the list become shoulds. Let’s use the same example as above. You calculate that you need to be asleep by 10pm because your alarm wakes you up at 6am. Perhaps, you set an alarm on your phone for 9pm to remind you that it is time to move toward your bedtime rituals. This is the time to set aside electronics. There is time to get a few last things done before bed and complete all of your bedtime rituals.
You know your goal is to be crawling into bed between 9:45 and 10 o’clock. At 10pm, you are comfortably in bed. The lights are off. Your body is settled. Your mind follows.
- Be kind as you take these actions. It may be weeks before you actually turn off the lights by 10pm. Regardless of how long it takes you, move a little closer to your wants each and every day. Applaud yourself when you take micro actions. Remind yourself of the wonderful feelings that you will experience when this want is a reality. It may take days, or months, to establish consistent actions and habits. Be kind to yourself about the timeline. It will happen because you want it to. It is only a matter of time.
Drop the Shoulds
When you make plans of action, be mindful of areas of resistance. If you had said, “I should get more sleep,” the above example would have turned out quite differently.
Should adds internal pressure. If you don’t do it, you may feel frustrated, self-critical or a like a failure. Set realistic and achievable actions that feel good to you.
Ask Yourself, What Do You Want?
The question this month becomes, do you want to meditate?
If you’ve been saying to yourself, I should meditate, drop the should and firmly decide on what you want.
Once you decide what you want, you are unstoppable.
Buts spontaneously disappear.
Certainty guides you from moment to moment.
You are free to explore solutions to overcome challenges. Challenges, therefore, become decisions rather than obstacles.
Go within and ask yourself the question, am I ready to start meditating?
If the answer is yes, join the May Meditation Challenge, a fun. flexible, and easy-to-fit-into-any-schedule 31-day challenge. Each day you’ll find simple meditations to help you de-stress, feel happier, and ultimately bring you closer to your essential nature.
Only you can decide if meditation is right for you, at this time in your life. Your true wants and desires will naturally lead you toward health, happiness and well-being, in the right way at exactly the right time. The best way to celebrate National Meditation Month is your way.