How to get started or improve the quality of your meditation

How just 10 minutes of daily meditation can work wonders for you!

When we hear the word meditation, we might think we really don’t have time for that:

“I have a busy life with a lot of commitments. Meditation might be good for other people who are less busy.” 

At the same time, we hear how meditation can bring us peace of mind, improve focus, and allow us to perform better in life. Who doesn’t want that? 

In this post I want to share my experience and share some evidence and resources with you.  Information you can use to get started and/or improve the quality of your meditation right away. I want to share an approach to meditation that finally resulted in a breakthrough in my own daily meditation – amazingly without spending a ton of time on it. 

Actually, I will show how just 10 minutes of daily mediation can work wonders for you. Yes, you read it right – only 10 minutes of mediation a day! 

You might be skeptical, and think is that even possible? I’m here to tell you that it is possible. If I can do it, you can do it!

Maybe you have a busy head like me. Thoughts passing through the head like trains. Once the thoughts gain momentum like the train wheels spinning on the tracks, they are really difficult to stop. The trains of thought – thinking about how some situation or interaction could have been handled differently. 

Krishnamurti is regarded globally as one of the greatest thinkers and religious teachers of all time. He explains meditation like this: 

“So if one wants to discover what meditation is, one has to ask: why does one have to meditate? One realizes one’s brain is constantly chattering, constantly planning, designing—what it will do, what it has done, the past impinging itself on the present—it is everlastingly chattering, whether scientific chatter or ordinary daily life chatter. So the brain is constantly in motion. Now the idea of meditation is to make the brain quiet, silent, completely attentive, and in that attention find that which is eternal or something sacred”

https://kfoundation.org/meditation/

To put it in simple terms the purpose of meditation is to quiet the mind and get rid of the constant noise of thoughts like: 

“If only I had said that… or I should have done that… or why did he or she say that…or if only he or she had said this then I could have…”

Maybe you have tried different approaches to meditation. Different attempts to quiet the mind and interrupt the noise of your thoughts and find some peace. I know I have. I have tried to shut down my mind and just listen to my breathing. I have listened to a lot of guided meditations. I have tried to pay attention to my senses one after the other. 

All these methods seemed to work to some extent. They gave me a break from my thoughts during that specific moment in time when I was doing the meditation. 

But the problem with these different approaches to meditation was that they didn’t change my way of thinking. It didn’t help me get down to the root causes of why I have a busy head. 

Here I want to pause for a moment and make a small digression before I tell you how exactly just 10 minutes of daily meditation can work wonders for you. 

The reason for this pause is that the task of changing our way of thinking is a larger undertaking. There are a lot of elements involved in order to improve our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. How to grow and change our way of thinking to be more at peace will be themes in upcoming articles. 

So back to meditation. And back to the actual benefits we can obtain from meditating. 

A recent study by Pascoe et al. in Comprehensive Psychoneuroendocrinology (volume 6, 2021) highlights the benefits of meditation on our mood and body:

  • Meditation decreases blood pressure, heart rate, cortisol and cytokine levels.
  • Meditation increases self-compassion, dispositional mindfulness and meta-cognition.
  • Meditation improves attention and memory.
  • Meditation results in brain changes in regions related to emotion regulation.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666497621000114

The study shows why meditation is good for us. Meditation improves our attention and memory. We get more self-compassion. We become more mindful. Our ability for meta-cognition improves. At the same time meditation lowers our feelings of distress. We ruminate less. And our level of stress decreases. These are all positive effects of meditation that we can use in all areas of our personal and professional lives. 

How to get started or improve the quality of your meditation?

Now you may be curious about how to get started or improve your meditation as I did. And that is where I came across Pema Chödrön. Pema is American Buddhist nun. She describes one very easy approach to meditation that I want to share with you:

“It is helpful to always remind yourself that meditation is about opening and relaxing with whatever arises, without picking and choosing… In any case, the point is not to try to get rid of thoughts, but rather to see their true nature. Thoughts will run us around in circles if we buy into them, but really they are like dream images. They are like an illusion – not really all that solid. They are, as we say, just thinking.” 

Pema Chödrön: Comfortable with Uncertainty, Shambhala, 2018, p.19

For me the meeting with Pema Chödröns teachings in “Comfortable with Uncertainty” resulted in a breakthrough in my meditation. Her description of how to meditate changed my focus and helped me to just label my thoughts “thought”.

It is really that simple. 

I will break this approach down to 3 simple steps. Steps you can easily apply when you sit down and meditate for just 10 minutes a day:

  • Simply label “thought” as thoughts arises during meditation. 
  • Let the thought go. 
  • Gently return your focus to your breathing.

Just repeat these 3 simple steps throughout your meditation. In spending just 10 minutes doing this every day you will experience how it gets easier and easier day after day. You will begin to notice the nature of your thinking. How thoughts just come and go like traffic. And you will experience as I have that it is when we hang on to a thought or entertain a storyline that we get into trouble. 

Drop the storyline. Label the thoughts as simply “thoughts” before they pick up speed. Let the thoughts go and return to the present moment. In other words, if you study Comfortable with Uncertainty and apply this simple approach to your mediation for 10 minutes a day. You will experience the benefits of meditation. I know it is working for me. 

If you feel inspired to get started on meditation after reading this article – without spending a ton of time on it, just 10 minutes a day will do. Or if you feel inspired to improve the quality of your meditation, I suggest that you:

> Buy “Comfortable with Uncertainty” by Pema Chödrön (click the picture link below). 
> Read a page a day. 
> And just sit 10 minutes a day meditating. Practice labeling your thoughts as “Thought” 

Click the picture and get the book at Amazon

After you have given it a try please leave a comment on how it works for you.

About Sophie H HigginsMA, MBA, MBC: I’m a freelance writer, professional speaker, philosophical life & business coach, and martial artist. I specialize in providing high quality content to help people and businesses grow. Need a resourceful writer and professional content provider? I can help you achieve your goals.

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