The Lazy (and Cheap) Guide to Meditation

You’ve heard about the benefits of meditation by now. Seems like everyone is doing it. Every guest on Tim Ferriss has some form of meditation routine. But you haven’t started, because you don’t have a guru or haven’t been to the right course? Screw all that, meditating is the simplest hard thing you will ever do.

Then you can spend the rest of your life perfecting it.

Buddha statue with lights
Be Like Buddha

How to Meditate

First you need to find somewhere quiet. This can be hard if you have kids, pets or any other lifeform that badgers you constantly.

My trick is to get up first. I get mine done before the house starts.

Sit with your back against something, I use the wall or the couch. I cross my legs too but don’t use your weird knee issues as an excuse. Just be comfortable.

Some people lie down. I don’t. It’s often half five in the morning and I don not trust myself to not fall asleep.

Use a timer. This is crucial. You need to set the timer and then leave it the hell alone. Don’t look at it and don’t touch it. Chuck it on the couch, behind you and out of reach. You will be looking for any excuse. Don’t let the timer be one.

Start with a low number that you know you can handle. Say two minutes, not twenty. I know Seinfeld does twenty minutes twice a day. You’re not fucking Seinfeld. The idea is to start the habit with easy wins first. Once you establish the habit, then you can grow from there.

Start the timer. Your phone timer will be fine to start with. I use Insight Timer for Android. It tracks how many days you meditate in a row so you can get a sweet streak going. Plus it has nice gongs.

Close your eyes. I place my hands on top of each other palms facing up because it feels kind of ‘meditationy’.

Breathe. This is the main goal. Keep Breathing.

Count each breath. I count the exhale. When you reach five. Start again.

That’s it. That’s all you do.

The key is to keep doing it. When your mind wanders, you come back to the breath. When you scratch your leg, then come back to the breath. Shopping list? Get back there.

The returning to the moment is meditating. You are practicing the mental action of returning to the present.

Young Thai Monks getting it done
End up like these dudes

Is that it? It seems too simple.

Simple it is. But it’s not bloody easy.

You will suck at it to start. But don’t beat yourself up, you can’t win at meditating. And you’re not one of those people who ‘can’t’ meditate, like their super speed brains oscillate at a rate to quick for meditation to handle. Those guys need it most.

There are plenty of great books out there on mediating. 10% Happier is my pick as an introduction. It explains the benefits well but doesn’t wander into chakra and crystal territory. Written by an American newsreader called Dan Harris. He tells how an on-air panic attack made him reassess and look for tools to control his anxiety and stress.

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