Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I can’t sit longer than five minutes. How do I sit still?
A: As with anything else in life, meditation just takes practice. There’s no real trick to it other than that. A lot of people have trouble sitting still for one minute, so consider yourself ahead of the curve. But if you remind yourself that learning how to meditate properly is like exercising a new muscle, then you’ll be more patient with yourself when you don’t instantly get the results you want. This practice just takes time, effort, and commitment. Commit to sitting still for five minutes, day after day, until you’re ready to try for six. If you don’t make it the first time, try again the next day. Eventually, if you’re serious enough, you will learn how to sit as still as a Buddha for as long as you want.
Q: Do I need to be still to meditate? What about meditating while walking, running, or while engaged in simple chores?
A: No, you don’t need to be still to meditate–but it helps. A lot. Nevertheless, there is plenty of benefit to be found through bringing what the Buddhists call “mindfulness” to your activities whenever you can, and walking, running, or dish-washing are great opportunities to try it. Just pay attention to whatever you’re doing, bringing your awareness to every nuance of what you’re feeling and how you’re moving, absorbing yourself fully in the present moment and remaining undistracted by your thoughts.
Q: I can’t stop my mind. I just keep thinking and thinking no matter what I try.
A: Congratulations! You are officially a human being. The idea that you should be able to stop your mind completely is a common myth in spiritual circles, and while there are some arguments to be made for it, it’s generally not the case at all.
Q: Is it better to meditate in the morning or evening?
A: This is a matter of personal preference. But if you can’t decide which works best for you, why not try both?
Q: How does anyone find the time to meditate? I, for one, am incredibly busy.
A: Like all things in life, this is ultimately just a matter of priorities. If you realise that meditation actually provides you with important training for life, then you’ll start to see it as less of a hobby and more of an essential component of your daily routine, even if it’s only for five minutes in the morning when you wake up or before you go to bed at night. Everyone is busier than ever these days, but those who have tasted the power and benefits of a consistent meditation practice just make the decision that it’s something they can’t afford to skip.
Q: If I choose to practice sitting meditation, does it matter if I sit on a traditional cushion or in a chair?
A: Not really. But you may find that sitting in a traditional cross-legged posture helps (it’s been done that way for thousands of years for a reason). The most important things are to be comfortable, so you can completely relax, and to keep your spine straight, so you can stay alert and awake (and so you don’t hurt your back).
Q: What equipment do I need?
A: Not a lot. A blanket is always a good idea as you are sitting still for a period of time and could get cool. A yoga mat or meditation cushion also helps with comfort and posture, but are not essential.