As a professional mixed martial artist the first month of meditation for me was truly a struggle. In fact, if I’m honest the first month of meditation was really my first 5 years of meditation because it was about that amount of time that I tried to learn and gave up multiple times. Finally I decided to hire an expensive coach to teach me something that now I realize anyone can learn so long as they understand the misconceptions about meditation in the first place.
Now as a meditation instructor I realize that the biggest challenges in meditation are understanding that thoughts are part of the process and the respecting the importance of routine. When I first started I had the idea that every time I had a thought come into my head during meditation I was “doing it wrong.” What I didn’t realize is that even the most experienced meditators have thoughts surface sometimes and that the idea is to simply observe them and let them go. As we practice meditation more often the thoughts become less dense and sometimes don’t even surface at all. The idea is to understand that we’re “practicing” meditation, not “doing meditation” – it’s not important to be good or bad at it, just to do it.
In the beginning I also didn’t respect how important routine is for success. I’d try to meditate for a day or two then I’d give up, thinking it was too hard and I was just wasting my time. However, as an experienced nutrition coach I know better than anyone that the first week or two are the most challenge aspect of creating a new routine and the only way to succeed is to simply tough it out. When I finally adopted this mindset I was able to start to really enjoy the benefits of meditation and see what it’s all about. It was this idea that inspired me to create the 28 Days of Meditation method.
Before I get into the method itself I should explain just a couple of simple tips about meditation. First of all, depending on your intentions or interests there are a variety of different ways to sit. You can sit cross legged, in a half lotus position, in a full lotus position, on your knees or even laying down. The easiest way though is to just sit comfortable in a chair. No special hand gestures or postures necessary; just sit in a way that’s comfortable to you. Once you’ve found a comfortable position the next step is to simply focus on your breathing. Some practices will have you practicing different breathing techniques which can be really fun but the easiest way is to just breathe in and out of your nose. If you find yourself bombarded by thoughts an easy way to focus on your breath is to count down from 99 in your mind with every inhale. So it would be like, “99(inhale)… exhale… 98(inhale)… exhale” and so on. Once the thoughts have subsided feel free to just focus on your breath.
So then, if you have found a comfortable position and have begun focusing on your breathing you’re ready to implement the 28 Days of Meditation method. This method is just a really simple way to create a gradual structure and routine that you can work your way up to. On Day 1 of your meditation you will start by meditating for at least one minute. On Day 2 you will add a minute, now meditating for two minutes. On Day 3 you’ll meditate for three, on Day for four and so on. Sound easy? That’s because it really is. When I say you meditate for at least one minute I mean you can feel free to meditate for more than that but that is all you’re obligated to. Most people will find themselves easily getting to a few minutes in the first couple of days but then find themselves struggling when it gets to 14 and above. If you’re going to attempt this method I invite you to do yourself a favor and see it through to the final 28 days. After that if you decide that meditation isn’t for you then you never have to do it again but it’s valuable to see it through to the end.
As you’re building up your meditation it’s also a good idea to write a paragraph or two in a journal every day. You can write about your meditation experience or even a general entry about how your day was. This will give you structure with your meditation and also allow you to look back and compare how your days were in accordance with your practice.
Meditation is by far one of the most valuable skills I have learned and has been a life changing experience for me. I suggest you do yourself a favor and learn this incredibly valuable skill and watch your life change too! If you’re interested you can look my name up on YouTube for lots of my different videos on nutrition, meditation and more.
By Ricky Goodall, Meditation Instructor & Certified Nutrition Coach