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Do not underestimate the power of meditating daily, even if it’s just 5 minutes.
People who have followed our advice to meditate everyday have told us that they have seen a big difference in their lives: they feel more focused, resilient, calm and peaceful. Not only has meditation helped their lives at a personal level, but it has also helped them deal with difficult people and stressful situations at work.
We particularly advocate and teach meditation practices that help you experience and observe the impermanence of things:
Set a timer, sit with closed eyes and remain completely still and quiet for the whole duration of your meditation practice -you can start out with just 5 minutes a day and if you are ever ready for more, you can increase the time to 20 to 40 minutes. Some people do it for an hour.
During this time, you are to carefully and somewhat slowly scan your whole body: observe bodily sensations and mental impressions that may arise at any time, and just as important is to not react and remain equanimous especially when your body feels the desire to fidget, when your face begins to tickle or when your knees begin to implore for movement. You must not react but instead step back and be a neutral witness as if you were in a movie theater watching a movie about all these things and events appearing and disappearing on screen.
It sounds impossible at first. We failed miserably the first several times, we couldn’t deal with the fact that something was itching in our bodies, we had to scratch. We were experiencing aversion towards the sensation being there and we were craving for the sensation to go away at any cost. Then it was our knees, we were in pain and we had to make it go away no matter what it took. There was always an excuse to move and be taken away from the present moment.
One of us describes an intense experience while vowing to practice this technique for one solid hour without changing the crossing of our legs, without moving our arms and without opening our eyes:
“I got this intense stinging sensation in the corner of one eye, it felt as if a tiny piece of broken glass had penetrated my eyeball, but I did not react. I felt it burn my eye to the point that I had tears running down my cheek. I sat quietly unmoving and simply watched the sensation. My knees followed suit as heat began to build up in them and peaked into intense burning pain that almost made me faint. I didn’t react either, once again I sat in the back seat and saw the pain in the eyes so to speak. It was physically and mentally challenging and intense.
I spent 30 to 40 full minutes in pain and I did not react. When meditation time was up, I felt an incredible sensation of liberation, and not just in my physical body but also in my mind. The rest of the day was complete bliss, complete peacefulness; I was in awe of how present I could be with everything happening in and around me while staying calm and happy.”
Make no mistakes for this was not a practice of bravado to see if we won or if the pain did; it’s first and foremost a practice of inner observation, to watch yourself go through hardship while staying soft and maintaining perfect equanimity of mind.
Everything is arising and passing away, even the tiniest particles in our bodies. It was realized by the Buddha’s direct experience and then proved by physicists some 2,500 years later that in a span of one second our subatomic particles arise and pass away three trillion times. Yes, everything is in constant change in our inner and outer world so then what is the point of clinging to something that is bound to be nothing but a fleeting experience? It might stay for a while, but it shall pass.
This does not turn you into a vegetable. Au contraire, if there’s a situation that needs and can be changed you’ll be able to do something about it from a place of clarity and peace, you’ll be able to respond wisely. And if you can’t change it, you’ll be able to learn to not be attached and without grudges let it go.
Once you’re able to do this practice and sustain it through good and rough times, you will navigate the world with much more ease and peace of mind, two qualities that will change your life for the better.
We cover this topic and more on our FREE course on cultivating inner peace, creating sustainable happiness and finding meaning in life.
Thomas & Ruth
LIVE BETTER: Learn simple strategic changes on how to feel happier, more fulfilled and more peaceful.
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