The quick answer? Quite easily.
Not being anxious is not a prerequisite for meditation practice.
In fact, it’s the whole point. To meditate you just have to decide to meditate. Despite what your anxiety is telling you, you don’t need to hesitate, expect or plan ahead. You don’t need to know how to do it before you start. Just decide to do it. The cool thing about learning to meditate is that it’s its own reward. There are no prizes to be won, no levels to achieve. It just is. Nobody is judging. There is no right or wrong way. Knowing this from the start will instantly impact directly on your anxiety levels.
Feeling anxious and knowing you want to tackle it is the start of making changes. It’s like in our yoga classes, we often meet people who say, ‘I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible enough’. Well that’s the whole point. Change happens. Change is always happening; it’s the only thing we are sure of. All we have to do is sit down, get out the way and let change happen. And with meditation, the starting point is right here, right now – anxious or not!
You will see that in spite of how you are feeling, suffering is a choice. There is another level to which you have the capacity for self-kindness, compassion, joy and wellbeing. And strangely it’s been there all the time hidden underneath your anxiety.
Here are three useful tips to help you get into meditation and out of your anxiety.
- It’s not what you think you know. You may have read a lot about meditation practice. That’s fine, but now forget it all. Practice, your practice, is the key to success. Thinking you know how things are and then expecting the world to align itself with your expectations is a source of your anxiety.
2. It’s about getting out of your comfort zone. Go to a beginners class. Being with others who are trying to do the same thing really helps. Of course, when you are probably the one in four this week who is suffering with anxiety, deciding to go out to class is the challenge. But try; you won’t regret it. People often report that after the first class you will notice the difference.
3. There will be setbacks. But you don’t need to try too hard or conclude it’s not for you. It is. It works. It’s worked for thousands of years and it will work for you too. Meditation is about direct experience and the fruits of practice will grow all by themselves. Consistent practice, little and often, is key.
Turn up to your life
Meditation reveals very quickly that there is more going on in your life than what you thought or imagined was going on. When we meditate, we turn up. That is what meditation means – to turn up. So instead of being mentally distracted, separated from your life and planning for what might happen, meditation reveals what is really going on. And here is the surprise. When we meditate, we fall into the present. We are like a satellite dish. We realign ourselves towards a single point of observation. We link what we are observing and what we are doing. Our capacity then grows for self-kindness, self-compassion, peace and wellbeing. Our natural state. So are you willing to turn up?