4 Simple Ways To Approach The Daunting Task Of Meditation

Meditation has plenty of benefits that folks from all walks of life are finally seeing.

It's no longer viewed as woo-woo stuff for hippies and Buddhists; it's becoming an accepted technique with real, tangible benefits.

But when you're getting started, it's hard.

Here are some tips to help you get going.

1. Meditation isn't medication.

When you have a headache, you take an aspirin and the headache goes away.

Meditation isn't an ointment you rub onto some anxiety to make it go away.

It's a practice you do to regularly to train yourself to experience the world in a different mental state.

You can't meditate all the time, so if it doesn't change how you interact with the world after your eyes are open again and you've gotten up off the floor, you're not getting the real benefits.

That takes time and practice.

2. Don't freak out about it.

Getting frustrated because you can't stop thinking is quite possibly the biggest irony in the world.

It's like smoking a cigarette because you're mad you can't quit smoking.

Relax. Every step along the way moves you toward your goal of becoming a more peaceful and connected person.

We can achieve career, financial or other material success, and meditation will help with that. More importantly, it is a tool to help you become a person who can live a fulfilling life that is not dependent on your current external situation.

Something that powerful is necessarily hard and takes a long time.

It may get frustrating because the progress you make each day is so small, but remember that the state of being you are moving toward allows you to transcend the ups and downs of daily life.

And that's a pretty big deal.

3. Understand what it really is.

If you read an article like this one that touts the benefits of meditation and you just want those benefits, that's great.

But don't do it for the reduced stress, slower aging, the self-awareness or any of the other commonly heralded benefits.

Do it for something bigger.

For example, gaining a deeper connection with the world through meditation is what gives you the often-touted benefit of more empathy.

You don't go directly from sitting cross-legged with your palms up for 10 minutes a day to being a hugely empathetic person. Meditation is a training of your brain to behave in a different way than it has been previously conditioned to do.

That takes time.

It took your entire life to learn how to think the way you do; it's not going to change quickly.

The outcomes you read about are the result of becoming a calmer, more peaceful person.

It's not like passing a test; if you get 80 percent or higher, you pass and get the certificate of completion.

It's a long process of becoming a peaceful person who's deeply connected to your environment and the experiences you have within it. When you become that person, those benefits become real.

4. Do it your way.

That's what I've learned from over eight years of commitment to meditation.

The most important thing I've learned is that you have to do it your way -- not mine or anyone else's.

When you hear studies that meditating for a certain amount of time each day or in a certain way creates a certain benefit, remember that's just a statistical sample.

You may or may not react the way the subjects did.

Own your meditation practice.

When you find something that works, keep doing it.

If something isn't working, change it.

For example, I can't stand sitting with my palms facing up. To me, it's uncomfortable, so I meditate with my palms facing down on my thighs.

Nope, I don't look like the Buddha (thank goodness), but that's not the point.

The point is to find a posture, time, frequency and overall meditation practice that works for you, not what someone else has told you that you should do or what some guru does.

I really do wish I could tell you that you can get the results you want by doing some simple three-step process, but you can't.

You have to practice, and it may take a while -- years, even -- before you see tangible results. But the results you see will be far greater than you ever expected.