There is something I’ve done spontaneously – and for a long time, unconsciously – since I started meditating. My Teacher, Sally, described it as the secret of practice. What’s the secret? I associate my meditation practice with pleasure.
Here are a few tips for newcomers on cultivating pleasure around your meditation practice.
Your attitude is important as you embark on this inner journey. The central tenet of Yoga is ahimsa, non-harming. It’s important to be kind and gentle with yourself when you sit to meditate. It also helps to be inquisitive and to cultivate a sense of non-attachment.
If it’s in your wheelhouse, it’s good to approach meditation with a sense of playfulness.
In the beginning, just generate and indulge positive feelings for having practiced. Allow yourself to actively feel good that you followed through on your intention to sit. Establishing a new habit often involves overcoming internal obstacles such as your own resistance, and external obstacles such as time constraints.
Feel good that you practiced, regardless of what any untamed inner critic may be telling you about how well it went. Simply notice the thoughts that arise. Let them arise and subside in your awareness without engaging them. Use it as an opportunity to cultivate non-attachment, dispassion towards your conditioned thinking.
If you find yourself indulging the “thought train” and a bad feeling, you can “choose the opposite” feeling as is recommended in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. (The Yogis and Buddhists were the first cognitive psychologists.)
Cultivate a post-meditation ritual that you enjoy. For me it’s throwing on a pair of jeans and going to one of my neighborhood cafes to sip a latte and journal. I love the quietude of the city and the beauty of the architecture on Broadway when illumined by street lights in those dark early morning hours. When I’m in New Hampshire, my post-meditation quiet time usually involves enjoying the beauty of nature, like the apple orchard in the featured photo.
Especially if you like to write, it’s excellent to take a few minutes to record what meditation practice you did and what occurred. Notice any shifts in your awareness before and after meditating. One thing that amazed me early in my meditation practice was that I sometimes emerged from meditation with a completely different sense of how to handle a situation. I had more access to the possibilities available to me.
There was one thought that made it easy for me to commit to a meditation practice and contributed to my feeling of happiness after I meditated. It was my belief that meditating was the most important thing I did every day. I knew, intuitively, that cultivating a daily meditation practice was the single, most important thing I could do for my own deep-level healing and wholeness.
In the early days, what I most enjoyed was the victorious feeling of prevailing over obstacles to sit. And the virtuous, content feeling that comes with doing something you know is good for you.
Shortly after I started cultivating a daily practice, I noticed what new meditators typically report after just a few weeks of practice. On the day I didn’t sit, my entire day felt off.
Please feel free to contact me for one-on-one meditation coaching or group classes. I love helping people overcome obstacles, learn new pathways into meditation, and deepen their understanding and practice of meditation.