Updated: Feb 23, 2021
Starting something new can always be a bit daunting. We envisage how something will be, who we might meet along the way and what might be expected of us. But actually, in reality starting something new can be empowering, inspiring and liberating, We often confuse the feeling of being anxious with feeling excited and quite often can talk ourselves out of things we really want to try only to regret it later.
It's the same with Mindfulness and Meditation. We don't know what to expect, we think we might do it wrong but this is not the case.
Part of our problem with meditation comes from our expectations. We expect to be able to empty or minds completely and find immediate and everlasting peace. This is not the case. Meditation can bring about greater peace but this is achieved through observing our thoughts and feelings in a non judgmental and self compassionate manner rather than expelling them completely.
Williams and Penman ( 2011) in their book 'Mindfulness, a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world', state:
Like trying anything new, whether it's learning to paint or dance, it can be frustrating when the results do not correspond to the picture you have in your mind. In these moments it pays to persist with commitment and kindness towards your self . . . You will gradually come to realise that your thoughts are not you . . . It's tremendously liberating to realise that your thoughts are not 'real' or reality. They are simply mental events
Some people who are new to meditation find it difficult to even sit still for a period of 5 minutes (and this is ok), others find they take it to it straight away. Meditation is not all about sitting either, there is a lot of mindful movement involved for the more frisky among you. Below is an extract from my meditation diary 2 weeks after I began. I was practicing every day . . .
I sat in my meditation space today and managed to count up to 9 and back again 5 times. It doesn't seem much but I am going with 'the flow' and not trying to force it. I have found that visualizing the numbers as block objects coming towards me on the 'in breath' and moving away on 'our breath' helps to keep me more focused. My mind did wander a few times but I managed to bring it back to my breath when it did (5 Minutes)
Five minutes doesn't seem like much, and my thoughts were intrusive. A month on from this I was able to sit for 15 minutes at a time and now regularly meditate for 20 minutes twice daily. However that said, it is not about the amount of time you spend meditating, it has been shown that meditating for only 3 minutes a day can make an impact. It's more about the commitment your make to your daily practice. This is where the results are seen.
With continued practice and the right kind of firm yet gentle effort, calmness and mindfulness and equanimity develop and deepen on their own, out of your commitment to dwell in stillness and to observe without reacting and judging.
(Jon Kabat Zinn - Wherever you go, there you are - Mindfulness meditation in everyday life)
So, when embarking on a meditation course it is helpful to understand that if your looking for instant results this may not happen (apart from for a lucky few), it usually take about 8 weeks for the benfits start to appear for most people and boy its it worth it when they do. Learning to meditate is a lifelong process, that's why is known as 'practicing meditation' and when you can start appreciating the journey it becomes so much more enjoyable.