“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Henry Ford
In 2003 and 2013, seeking change in my life, I went to Brazil to see the medium Joao de Deus [John of God] at the Casa de Dom Ignacio de Loyola.
The Casa is a place where miraculous cures regularly occur. It’s also a place of kindness and acceptance of people from all over the world.
So I was surprised to read an interview with John of God in which, when asked what determines if a person gets cured, his answer was “merit.”
I had to think long and hard about that. Surely possible cures would not be intentionally withheld.
So my interpretation of “merit” was that the patients must do the work they need to do to achieve and maintain health:
- take the herbs prescribed at the Casa,
- follow the dietary guidelines,
- follow a healthy lifestyle,
- stop smoking,
- stop destructive behavior,
- continue healing treatments at home, etc.
Many oncologists agree that one reason cancer may come back is that patients, once in remission, don’t make lifestyle changes that will strengthen their immune system. So, in a nutshell, cancer may come back if you don’t do the work.
Or, people will attend a weekend workshop wanting a quick fix, or travel to Peru for instant enlightenment with ayahuasca, rather than commit to a daily spiritual / personal improvement practice at home.
I’ve been a spiritual seeker my entire life and I can assure you, there are no short cuts. We all have to do the work that will slowly and surely bring the change we seek.
The problem with meditation is…
Actually, there is no problem with meditation other than the fact that people simply don’t do it.
At some point, I ask most of my clients and students if they have a meditation practice.
I ask this because my experience, and the scientific research, shows that meditation is one of the best ways to become healthier, happier and more successful. And that’s just a partial list.
The answer I often get back is, “Well, I know I should, but….”
What is it that stops us from doing what we know will benefit us? That’s what I want to know.
I’ve taken a gazillion personal growth and spirituality seminars in the course of my life, and they’ve taught amazing techniques designed to help us. Yet, not everyone in the course goes home and starts practicing what they’ve learned.
Why is that?
“If you think you can, you can; if you think you can’t, you can’t. Either way you’re right.” Henry Ford
Perhaps it’s because we live in an “instant fix” culture – taking a pill is so much easier than starting a new habit, making a consistent change to our diets or incorporating exercise into our lives.
Or taking a few minutes to meditate, or just breathe. And I literally mean a few minutes.
Dreams versus actions
We all have dreams. But how many of us take the action steps necessary to make those dreams a reality?
Baby steps, just one at a time, can get us far.
Start small – so small that your brain can’t even come up with resistance. Sit down in the morning and do nothing other than breathe for one minute. That’s a great way to start a meditation practice. It’s not about the time you put in. It’s about consistency.
A good place to start is my book, The Fountain of Youth Is Just a Breath Away: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation, Health and Vitality
Remember that there are no “shoulds” – whatever works for you and will get you starting a good habit is what you “should” do.
Baby steps is much less intimidating than feeling challenged to find 15-20 minutes to fit meditation into your morning. Because you don’t need 15-20 minutes!
2-3 minutes will be a good start.
Here’s a way to break it down.
9 easy steps to starting a meditation practice:
- Designate a good place to start meditating in your home. A “good place” will be according to your definition, not mine.
- Clear the clutter from it.
- Make an altar: put a candle, crystals, plant or flowers on it. Things that create beauty and good energy.
- Buy a meditation pillow or select some pillows from around the house that will be comfortable to sit on. Or a comfortable chair. [There’s no rule that says you have to meditate sitting on a pillow or the floor].
- Perhaps select peaceful music or a meditation CD to listen to and load them onto your mp3 or CD player. My meditation CD, Ancient Journeys, is available on my Books/Products page.
- Get your family/housemates to agree to leave you alone for the few minutes you’re going to meditate each morning [or evening]
- Turn off the phone and close the door.
- Sit down for 2 minutes and breathe. [Feel free to gradually increase the time. It’s the formation of the habit that’s important, not how long you do it each time].
- Repeat every day!
There. You’ve started your meditation practice.
If these 9 steps seem hard, you can hone it down to one step: sit down for 2 minutes and breathe. Easy and life-changing!
And now you’re doing the good work to bring change into your life.
“Diamonds are nothing more than chunks of coal that stuck to their jobs.”