Tips for Lazy Meditators

By Tergar Meditation Community • 5 min read

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Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya, tomorrow!

The idea of meditation is nice, isn’t it? By now, most of the general population has heard about its benefits, and even folks who have never tried it typically imagine that it’s a pleasant (or at least healthy) way to pass the time. If you’re reading this, you’ve certainly received at least a few teachings that inspired you to meditate. But for some of us, there’s just one catch: we somehow can’t get around to actually doing it. “Oh my, the day went by so fast! Well, tomorrow, I’ll definitely make time to meditate.” Tomorrow comes and goes, and meditation gets put off until the next day . . . and the next.

The 30-day challenge

So why is it that, despite your best intentions to meditate, you get stuck in procrastination mode? Because it’s not a habit yet. If you’ve ever tried to get a child to brush their teeth, house-train a puppy, start saving money, or maintain an exercise routine, you’ll know that to fully incorporate something new into daily life, it has to become a habit. In order for that to happen, it needs to be done for about thirty days in a row. If you can meditate for thirty consecutive days, it will become a habit, and you’ll finally get off the hamster wheel of procrastination.

Set yourself up to succeed

What you don’t need to do is proclaim to yourself, “From today onward, I’ll meditate every day for the rest of my life.” In fact, when you do that, the whole prospect of meditation gets really heavy, and nobody likes heavy things. The same goes for length. If you’re having trouble getting yourself to meditate, for goodness’s sake, don’t promise yourself you’ll meditate every day for an hour — you might not make it past day three! Far better, at the beginning, to do four or five minutes at a time. If you’re very new to meditation, you might want to start with just one minute. That’s just sixty seconds, for thirty days in a row. Easy and doable is the name of the game!

Whatever feels right

Having established a nice doable goal, all you have to do is get up in the morning. If you want, you don’t even need to get out of bed to begin. You could open your eyes and practice your three minutes of meditation right there, before your feet even touch the ground! But do try to choose a specific time of day to practice, because that will help you maintain the habit. If you’re an early riser, maybe mornings are going to be best. If you’re a night owl, maybe you’ll be more likely to do it in the wee hours. Or it might feel natural to do it during a transitional time, like after school or work, or before you start getting ready for your evening meal. Whatever feels right — the main thing is it should work for you.

It’s just awareness

One of the big misconceptions about meditation is that it necessarily requires sitting perfectly still on a cushion for a set amount of time. Happily, that’s not true. It’s awareness, not stillness or time, that is the essence of meditation. So if sitting poses a challenge for you, no problem, just bring awareness to walking, instead. And if formal meditation is hard for you — “formal” meaning time that is fully dedicated to that activity — you can try starting with informal meditation. “Informal” means meditating whenever you remember to meditate. In other words, it’s ninety-nine percent about suddenly thinking, “Oh no, I forgot to meditate!” Because the moment you have that thought, there is mindfulness. Awareness is right there.

Oops, I did it again

The human mind is a funny thing. For some reason, framing it as a positive, such as “I really want to meditate” can make it kind of daunting. The obstacles seem to be built right in. More often, the mind takes easily to negative framing, instead: “Whoops, I forgot to meditate” is as easy as falling off a log. Again, realizing you spaced out on your plan to meditate is awareness. So if you know you got distracted ten times today, that means you also had awareness ten times today. It’s actually something you can feel good about. “I got lost ten times today. Hooray for me!”

The end of excuses

Almost every activity requires a specific time, setting, or object. You can’t get dressed at the exact same moment as you wash dishes, or sleep while you’re navigating a freeway cloverleaf.  You can’t eat a stone, or walk a dog without a dog. When we’re feeling lazy about meditation, we instinctively reach for this conditionality as an excuse. “Oh, I only have ten minutes left before I have to leave. The environment’s not right. It’s too loud in here. I’m too busy to sit down. My back hurts . . .” And on and on. However, because all meditation requires is awareness, it’s the only activity other than breathing that you can do anywhere, at any time, with any object. You could, for instance, meditate for a single moment, while moving through a chaotically loud space, by bringing awareness to the ache in your back. There’s no excuse necessary, because it’s so simple!

 Start anywhere

At the beginning, you can practice with a single object, like your breath. But gradually, over time, you’ll be able to expand your practice and bring that awareness to any phenomena. All it takes is being inspired to develop a habit. After that, meditation is easy.

“How confusing that our habits promise so much comfort, even when they work against us.”

– Mingyur Rinpoche –

MEDITATION INSTRUCTIONS FOR BEGINNERS

  1. Keep your spine loosely straight and let your body relax. If you find that you can’t relax, just allow that you can’t relax — that in itself is to be relaxed!
  2. Notice that you are breathing and simply continue to be aware that you are breathing. You don’t need to focus on any particular sensation, just know that you are breathing. You can allow other thoughts, feelings, and sensations to come and go freely — as long as you remember that you are breathing, your meditation is doing fine.
  3. It’s normal to quickly get lost in thoughts, memories, plans, and so on. But as soon as you notice that you were distracted, you are already back in awareness! Now gently return your attention to your breath. Let this process continue again and again, over and over, with short intervals of awareness repeated many times — aware, forget, aware, forget, aware, forget — for the duration of your session. Every time you notice that you were distracted, you’re strengthening your meditation muscles.
  4. Practice short sessions regularly. Doing five to ten minutes each day is a great way to start; you can experiment with increasing the length of the sessions as your confidence develops.

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Tips for Lazy Meditators by Mingyur Rinpoche

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About the Author

By Tergar Meditation Community Team

Tergar Meditation Community supports individuals, practice groups, and meditation communities around the world in learning to live with awareness, compassion, and wisdom. Grounded in the Tibetan Buddhist lineage of our guiding teacher, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, our online and in-person programs are accessible to people of all cultures and faiths, and support a lifelong path toward the application of these principles in everyday life.

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