I don’t know why, but I really can’t meditate.

I’ve tried meditation, but I just can’t stick with it.

When I mention I am a meditation teacher, I get responses like this all the time. And I get it. Creating new habits can be hard at first. However, when it comes to meditation, it is so worth the effort. 

Regardless if you are just starting to meditate or you've been at it for a while and need some support, this article will provide you with two simple techniques to take your meditation practice to the next level. These techniques are taught at the London Buddhist Centre. You can do both every day or alternate between them.

Why you should meditate

But first, why should you meditate? Meditating is one of the best things you can do for your mental health and wellbeing. It can help you gain a new perspective on stressful situations, build skills to manage stress, increase self-awareness, focus on the present, reduce negative emotions, and increase imagination, creativity, patience and tolerance.

How to get started

Ok, sounds good, but how do you get started? Do you use an app, a meditation guide, or do you just sit and try to focus on your own? Although guided meditations are valuable and more accessible, there is nothing like creating a meditation practice just for you, just with you. 

Non-guided meditation

That’s why I will focus on non-guided meditation. That is, meditation that you do on your own without a person or app guiding you. Establishing your own practice is more challenging. When we just start to meditate, our monkey mind will get distracted easily. But believe me, you can get such great satisfaction from sitting down on your terms, closing your eyes and becoming aware without relying on technology or someone else guiding you. 

Reaping the benefits

Meditation is a practice, meaning you have to do it a few times before expecting to see benefits. You do, however, notice benefits very quickly, mainly after the third or fourth time. You can expect to feel more calm, creative, focused and relaxed. It is better to do it a few minutes every day than once every week for one hour. Stick with it, and you will start noticing the benefits. 

Before we get started...

Before we get started, let’s talk posture. Don’t worry. You don’t have to be able to sit in a lotus pose to meditate. Just make sure you are comfortable, and your spine is straight. You can sit in a chair with your feet steady and flat on the floor or crossed-legged on the floor while supporting your knees with pillows. Soften your gaze and stare at a point a few feet in front of you or close your eyes entirely.

 

MINDFUL BREATHING

This is an easy technique that you can access anytime and anywhere. 

  1. Close your eyes and start to focus on your natural breath.
  2. Count the inhales. 
  3. After ten inhales, count ten exhales. 

This focuses the mind and creates a deep relaxation. If your mind starts to wander, don't worry, this is perfectly normal. Whenever you notice your attention drifting, simply focus again on your breathing and try to accept the thoughts coming into your mind. Observe them, don't engage with them and allow them to pass. 

 

METTA BHAVANA

Metta Bhavana meaning love and kindness, is a technique that raises the vibration of the practitioner, cultivating love, hope and happiness. This technique is really magnetising for anything you wish to attract into your life. 

Once you are ready to get started, take a couple of minutes to settle into your space and come to the present moment. Allow your mind to become calm, breathe naturally and relax your body. 

Then, start to focus on your breathe. Alternatively, you can use a mantra which you say internally. For example, on every inhale: "I am breathing in.", and on every exhale: " I am breathing out.". This will allow your mind to relax and focus more easily. 

Once you feel ready to start the love and kindness practice, begin by bringing to mind your self, as you are sitting here in this moment. Try to connect with your deepest intentions for happiness, ease and safety. There's no need to dive into stories of what will make you happy, but rather try to connect with that natural desire that you have. 

And then, in your head, slowly offer yourself the phrases:

May I be happy, may I be well, may I be free from suffering.  

Repeating these over and over, while sending yourself all the love, wellbeing and happiness that you can. 

Whenever you feel ready to move on, start to bring to mind a person that you love. Ideally, this is someone you don't feel sexually attracted to. You can now visualise that person sitting opposite of you.

Then, repeating the phrases to this person.

May you be happy, may you be well, may you be free from suffering.  

You can repeat these sentences as much as you like. Sending love, compassion, happiness and safety to this person.

When you feel it's time to move on to the next stage, bring to mind someone that you don't particularly love. Not someone you dislike, but someone you feel neutral about. Maybe a colleague or a friend's friend. 

Then, repeating the phrases to this person.

May you be happy, may you be well, may you be free from suffering.  

Sending him or her the same love as you did in the previous steps. 

And then in the next step, you will do the same with a person you dislike. This will be harder, but also really beneficial for your self love and compassion.

May you be happy, may you be well, may you be free from suffering.  

Sending him or her the same love as you did in the previous steps. 

In the final step, you are going to send this love to the whole world. You can start by imagining amplifying this love and positive wishes that you are already feeling in your body and sending it to the house or building you are in. Imagine sending you love to everyone there. Then you can build on that energy and imagine giving it to your whole street, village, city, country, continent, and world. 

May you all be happy, may you all be well, may you all be free from suffering.  

 

This is Metta Bhavana, a practise to cultivate compassion, love and happiness.

December 17, 2021 — Lilian Buechner

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