The following blog is an excerpt from An Ordinary Dude's Guide to Meditation
Many newcomers to meditation have a lot of questions when they're just getting started. Here are 3 of the most common, along with their answers.
1. It is insanely difficult to sit still - any pointers?
When you first start meditating, sitting still can feel like the equivalent of someone slowly inching a finger towards your eye, with you being forced to keep it open. In other words, it can be excruciating, especially if you have a lot of built-up anxiety or racing thoughts.
To counter this, try bringing your attention to the feeling in your hands or feet, or listen to the sounds around you, like the wind, rain, air conditioner, footsteps or whatever. This will take your attention off the overwhelming emotion you may be experiencing and help you relax. One exception though - avoid listening to conversations. When you listen to people talk, you’re more likely to start thinking about what’s being said, which is not what we’re trying to do here.
2. I have an itch. My nose is running. I really have to use the toilet now! Can I relieve myself?
When it comes to an itch or a slight runny nose, try to remain still and let it be. Yes, it can be difficult to do this, but the key to a successful meditation session is stillness. So instead of scratching the itch or wiping your nose, just experience the sensation. No it doesn’t sound fun, and you’ll initially be inclined to take action and relieve it. But usually within what feels like 20 to 30 seconds (on rare occasions it can last a few minutes), the sensation will no longer bother you and will likely go away on its own.
Of course, if you’re dreadfully sick and there’s snot oozing out of your nose at a rapid pace, then yes, it may make sense to wipe it. And if you have a terrible case of diarrhea, then absolutely go and relieve yourself in the toilet. There are exceptions!
So have I personally ever scratched an itch or wiped my nose during meditation? Of course. But it’s on a very rare occasion. 99% of the time I just ignore it, and it goes away by itself.
3. What should I expect my first time meditating?
I wish I could share my own experience here. But as it’s been over a decade since I’ve started, I don’t really remember it too well. However, after talking with first-time meditators, and from my own experience returning to meditation on multiple occasions over the years, I can tell you this. It’s going to be difficult to sit still. And you’re probably going to feel uncomfortable with some of the feelings that pop up.
So what do you do? You meditate anyway. Like I mentioned earlier in the book, take small steps. If it’s incredibly difficult, just do a minute for your first session. And then work your way up to five, ten and so on.
If you want to just dive in and do a longer meditation session at the get-go, I completely encourage you to do so. Every time I’ve returned to meditation, I’ve just bitten the bullet and gone right back to 20 minutes. Perhaps this is because I know what to expect though...I’m fairly certain the first time I meditated it was for under 10 minutes.
What are your questions about meditation? Write them in the comments, and I'll answer them for you.