Welcome! I was expecting you. You’ve always struck me as the meditative type. Even so, you’ll probably need a little assistance to get up to speed. It’s not personal. These questions aren’t what people typically associate with being important to a meditation practice.
You may be thinking, “What possibly do I need to think about in order to totally bliss out?” As it turns out, 5 critical things. Answering these will set you up for a legit long-term meditation practice. So before you even try to convince your hip flexors into that zen-like cross-legged lotus position check out the following.
Know your motivation. This isn’t a riff off of Simon Sinek's, “Know your why.” It’s more basic than that. Are you being told you should do this or are you coming to meditation on your own volition? Have you tried other solutions that didn’t work? Does meditation seem like it’s the easiest thing you can do to get the results you’re looking for? Are you doing it to impress some hot so-and-so at work? Your motivation is what it is. BUT it will be extremely helpful to the success of your practice if you are honestly aware of what is driving your interest to meditate.
Know your level of trust that meditation will actually help with what you’re wanting to see happen. For many, the practice of meditation seems too simple, boring, stupid (or fill in your own blank) to really be helpful. On the other hand, many think meditation is the holy grail to achieve what they’re looking for and trust it wholeheartedly. Both sides of this spectrum have their downfalls. Know your level of trust going into this. It will directly impact what your brain will ‘see’. It will also put a spotlight on where your biases, both pro and con, will influence your experience.
Know your history of sticking with things that don’t show immediate results. Most of us totally stink at persisting with things that are more of a marathon than a sprint. Or we stink at sticking with things that are more subtle and nuanced than overt and plain to see. Unfortunately, meditation falls into both these categories, marathon and subtle. These aren’t problems in and of themselves, just super important to know ahead of time. Recognize your normal operating preferences and where they might be counter to what meditation offers. If needed, calibrate your expectations taking into account where you might have to do things counter to your preferences.
Recall your past attempts at meditation. Dwelling on the past isn’t what we’re talking about. What we are talking about is that knowing your past can help you be more strategic in the future. Think about what your experiences with meditation were like in the past. Frustrated you couldn’t get your brain to turn off? Totally fidgety and bored after 2 minutes? Didn’t feel rested and rejuvenated after sacrificing 20 minutes of your day that you’ll never get back? Again, this beta is critical. Adjust your expectations accordingly.
Define specifically what ‘success’ and ‘successful timeline’ looks like for you. You gotta think about this. You may not be in the habit of thinking along these ‘specific’ lines. On the other hand, you may have pretty strong expectations and specific benefits you’re looking for. Knowing what you’re setting yourself up for will help you. Are your signs of success realistic? Is your timeline realistic? Look at your expectations here and tweak where needed.
Meditation really does offer all the benefits you’ve read about so don’t let these questions deter you. Use the information you’ve uncovered about yourself to offset any meditation surprises that may pop up and set up a practice that will truly last.