Human beings are driven by purpose. They will not do anything unless they see why it can be helpful, either to them or someone they care for.
You are a human being.
If you want to learn how to reach the meditative state, you must understand why the practice will be beneficial to you.
Motivation is the key. If you are not motivated, you will not practice. You will see no point in practicing.
On the other hand, if you are motivated, you will practice and reap the rewards.
Pleasure or Pain?
People are generally motivated by pleasure, pain, or a combination of the two. That is why you need to answer the following questions:
1) What will a regular meditation practice help me reduce or get rid of?
2) What will a regular meditation practice help me increase or acquire?
The Better Motivator
Pain is a better motivator. Start with that. What kind of discomfort can meditation help you decrease?
Stress, anxiety, depression, and physical tension are at the top of that list. Even a small reduction can be tremendously beneficial.
While meditation will not eradicate any of the above, it has been shown to reduce the symptoms quite effectively.
Suffer from insomnia? Research has shown that people who meditate fall asleep faster and sleep better.
Struggle with addiction? A regular meditation practice has been used to supplement addiction treatments with good results.
What Will You Get?
What about the positive aspects? What can meditation help you increase or acquire?
Increased concentration, creativity, and overall energy are at the top of that list—all valuable traits in our society.
But the main acquisition, so to speak, is that with the practice of meditation you can reach an inner state of peace at will—a state of equilibrium.
You can create your moments of peace.
You see, meditation is not a fabricated state. It is natural. It is accessible to all. And in the same way that a person who learns how to run, can run any time they want to, or, a person who knows how to play an instrument can play music at will, once you learn how to meditate, you can create your moments of peace at will.
Personal ReasonsThis ability, to access a peaceful state of mind, at will, should suffice as motivation—but it doesn’t. Human beings need personal reasons to motivate them to action.
- “Should I watch TV or practice?”
- “Should I grab a beer or practice?”
- “Should I go online or practice?”
Those are some of the questions you will be faced with when you start to practice meditation. That is why mental preparation is extremely important.
… feeling less stress. How will that positively affect your relationship with your friends and family? How will it reduce mental and physical tension?
… sleeping better. Can you see how a better quality of sleep will give you energy that lasts throughout the day?
… being less prone to depression and anxiety. Meditation has certainly been shown to help in that department.
… being more focused and creative. How will you work and play more productively?
The key, the secret, the most important aspect, is that you must make your own list. It must be detailed.
It must be personal.
Until It Becomes Self-Sustaining
Once you experience the benefits of meditation firsthand, then your list can evolve and change, but by then your meditation practice will likely feed off itself. You will need less of a stick because the practice will be the carrot.
Write your reasons. Take your time. Lay the foundation for your practice.
Founder of Harmony Interfaith Initiative
Column curated from the book Baby Steps to Meditation © Gudjon Bergmann, 2014