Meditation: discomfort.

OMG, tomorrow you are committing to sit for another 10 minutes of meditation? 

Wonderful.

10 minutes is a good minimum time for a meditation sitting. It gives you enough time to settle into your posture, become aware of your breathing, focus your mind on counting and developing/experiencing the movement of your breath.

Just like any new exercise or activity, this whole mediation thing may still seem uncomfortable and awkward to you. But I encourage you to persist.

Meditation is kind of like walking through a fine mist or fog. You don’t realise anything is happening at all, but before too long you are soaked by it.

Remember once you begin you are committing to sit until your timer sounds.

Focus your awareness on your breath. Label any thoughts that arise and return to your breath.

You may notice thoughts arising (especially around the 5-minute mark) such as: 

  • This is getting boring.
  • Are the 10 minutes up yet?
  • My leg/back/head is uncomfortable Is the 10 minutes up YET?

This is perfectly normal. And will get a whole lot easier as you develop your practice.
Simply label this as “thinking” each time it arises and return your experience to counting your breaths. 

If you get distracted 36 times, return to your breath 27. This is the core competency of meditation.

Dealing with pain and discomfort.

Once you start sitting for more than 5 minutes you are likely to begin experiencing discomfort (if you haven’t already). Your knees may begin to ache, your legs may fall asleep, your back may begin to feel stiff and sore. These sensations are to be expected and are part of the meditation practice.

This is how to manage them:

Experience the discomfort. Remain focused on your breathing & counting, but also open your awareness to any discomfort or pain. Explore exactly what these sensations are without judgement and without running the usual internal chatter about the pain.

Simply notice. Where are these sensations located? 
How do you experience them?
And by that I mean how do these sensations feel without you attaching thinking around them. 

Do the sensations change once you settle your awareness of them? It can be surprising just how much sensation morphs under sustained now-full attention.

Remember: once you go off on some storyline about your discomfort, label it “thinking”, and return to your breath and your non-judgemental experience of the discomfort. 

Change your position. If the discomfort becomes really distracting or is escalating it is best not to try to tough it through. Remain focused on your breath and change your position. For example, if you feel your legs going to sleep, uncross them or stretch them out for a few minutes. Attend to your body.

Listen to sensations of pain. If you are experiencing pain rather than discomfort you may need to select another posture such as sitting in a chair or using cushions for extra support. 

Ian Miller

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