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The Untold Side of Meditation

The goal for Black Zen is that anyone who reads the wellness, listens to the podcast, and/or downloads the beginner’s guide to meditation walks away with new insight or reminders about how to live their best life. With all of the topics we discuss, this week we wanted to re-emphasize and focus on the real root of all lasting change - developing a meditation practice. Fam, we're getting back to basics!

When we thought back to when we began meditating, and the resources we wish we had available as we stumbled through those first few years, a few things came to mind. So, below we’ve provided important tips necessary to grow a personal practice and also unraveled a few of the questions that were in the back of our minds when we first started. These tools are designed to help you on your journey, wherever you are in the process.
One of the key things to point out is that everyone’s meditation practice will be different. However, there are a few common themes that seem to come up most often. The biggest question from most beginners is, "Am I doing this right?" The short answer is, “yes!” Some may disagree, but we believe simply sitting in silence will be beneficial. Although, if you find yourself falling asleep often you may want to change your location (hint: not your bed) and/or your position (i.e. sitting up or practicing in a high backed chair). While the body is at rest, the mind should be in a hyper-state of awareness (read: too amped for zzz's) and actively engaged in the practice.

Insider Tip #1: If you can, avoid music and opt for silence instead. Any music (or even voices from guided meditations) that pull our focus and attention from a central or internal focal point (such as the breath, or the body, etc.) can sometimes hinder progress. Not sure what it is, but there is something transformative and special about silence.

For the seasoned meditators looking to grow deeper in a practice, start with better consistency. It’s with regular practice that you become less likely to chase incessant thoughts or battle with your mind to settle down. This paves the way for you to fall more easily into silence and stillness and sets you up for the opportunity to go beyond the initial point of establishing concentration.
Insider Tip #2: Know that a consistent practice doesn't mean that every sit will be centered. Just like life, your practice will fluctuate. There will be times when no matter how hard you try to silence the mind, thoughts will still race. It's inevitable, so don't panic when it happens. Simply sit with it and observe it with nonjudgmental curiosity.

Fortunately, there are a lot more resources now than when we first began. One of our favorite articles in this week’s wellness is What They Don't Tell You About Meditation. This article highlights how changes in your inner life will impact your outer experience, and for us, this was a biggie! At times, it can be hard to tell if meditation is “working.”

Insider Tip #3: Yes, it's working. If it’s not obvious at the start, it will be over time.
Finally, here are a few additional resources we’ve collected to help you on your journey:

  • Black Zen Beginner's Guide to Meditation: This guide provides simple, straightforward ways to get started, provides answers to some great questions about how meditation can help in "real life," and has an FAQ to answer the rest.
  •  Meditation for Beginner's is a quick read about how to approach your initial attempts and gives tips on how to interact with your practice.  
  • We often hear about how peaceful meditation can make us but rarely do people talk about how difficult it can be, especially when negative emotions come up. When Strong Emotions Arise During Meditation is a perfect example of a resource we wish we'd found when we first started, and shows how to deal with these emotions when they surface. We also recently talked about this topic in our podcast, Pushing Past Pain, if you want a real glimpse into what the author is referring to.
Final Insider Tip: Meditation is not a one size fits all.
It's important to not compare your process with anyone else's. There is also no need to grasp for a different experience, simply observe and be present with each sit. When you start where you are, whether you're a beginner or have been meditating for years, remember that your practice evolves over time and will grow as you grow.
Your partners in progress,

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