Meditation: all the cool kids are doing it, right? Wrong. Unlike fad diets or trendy exercise classes, meditation dates way, way back. In fact, most experts believe that Vedic meditation is 10,000 years old, and it’s a technique that everyone from high-powered execs to celebs to your neighbor is quietly studying. Passported recently sat down with Michael Miller, founder of the New York and London Meditation Centers to get his guidance on how to kick-start a practice. It’s less complicated than we thought.
1: Stop trying so hard.
“Success is normally linked to effort,” explains Michael Miller. “Meditation is the opposite, where you do less to accomplish more.” You don’t need to engineer the experience, just show up and follow the steps. PS: it’s okay if your mind wanders. “The idea that meditation, or any of these techniques, means not thinking is the biggest misconception,” says Miller. If you can accept that whatever happens in your mind is okay, you’re halfway there.
2: Start easy.
If you’re considering adding meditation to your life, don’t feel that you have to launch the movement with a big retreat. Meditation for Dummies? That exists, and Miller suggests buying a book or downloading a podcast to get a sense of what this is all about.
3: Yoga isn’t meditation.
When you’re ready for a class, check the teacher’s credentials. That relax time at the end of yoga is nice, but meditation it is not. If you really want to learn, take a targeted course and confirm that the teacher is certified to teach meditation. And don’t worry about a massive time commitment. At the NY Meditation Center, you’ll get trained over four days, with two hours each day. “At the end of that, you are an expert in your own practice, and you have a technique for life,” says Miller.
4. There’s more than one style.
Don’t eat, pray a lot, and remain silent for twelve days in a mountain. It’s not right for most of us. A monastic practice won’t suit the majority of meditators, regular busy people with regular busy lives. To find the right practice, look for a teacher who provides an example of a lifestyle you think is ideal. “Is the person inspiring? Does he or she resonate with you?” asks Michael, who remembers the first time he attended a talk about meditation. “I went along not knowing anything, and ten minutes into this guy’s one-hour talk, a switch flipped. If meditation is how you became what you are, I thought, I want that.”
5: Don’t procrastinate.
“Start something sooner rather than later,” advises Michael. Stress compounds, and if you feel ready for a change, the quicker you start, the better. “Nobody loves meditation because life is really perfect and they have forty minutes in their day and don’t know what to do with them,” he laughs. “Whether things are rough and you want them to get better, or things are good but you want to support and maintain them, meditation is key. Don’t wait, do something.”