I meditate nearly every day. Sometimes for 40 minutes. Sometimes, when time is limited, for just 20 minutes. (I like the longer sessions best.)

No, I don’t get bored.

Yes, my mind still yammers on like a barfly trying to get laid. But still, I meditate.

I started my practice by just starting. No books, no studying. Just meditating 5 minutes a day for one whole month. I used a timer. (See below.)

Then, the over-achiever bossy boss in my head told me I needed to do 10 minutes a day.

Luckily, I know this crazy overachiever well. And I know from experience that she is also a saboteur. So instead, I chose to meditate for 6 minutes a day for 30 days.

Then I went to 7.

Then I made a leap to 15 minutes. The over-achiever had quieted substantially at this point, and I dove deeper into technique and began studying certain teachers like Tara Brach, Pema Chodron, Sam Harris and Adyashanti.

On my birthday that year, I went for a whopping 40 minutes.

Soon after, I went to my first 7-day silent retreat. I continued to meditate for 30 – 40 minutes daily if possible.

What I can tell you is the meditation has been a game-changer. I don’t need to walk you through the brain science and data. You’ve heard it all before. You don’t need more facts. You just need to do it.

So I’d like to share how I got started. Take what works for you, and leave the rest, okay?

Before we begin, let me simply say that I’m guessing that you and I are a lot alike.

1 – I’m guessing that you are a bit of a perfectionist.

2 – I’m betting that you like it best when things are bright shiny. (Like, maybe you secretly believe that Jesus himself should show up during your first session to give you a “thumbs up!” for being all holy and shit.)

3 – I’m also betting that you’re a high achiever. You’re thinking you’ll “kick meditation’s ass!” or something of that sort.

Okay cool. All good.

With that out of the way, let’s begin with my NOT TO DO’s when you start a meditation practice.

 

Christine’s Top 3 Meditation Not-To-Do’s:

1 – Don’t try

I don’t know who said this first, but it’s true: You can’t “achieve” your way to peace. “Trying” makes mediation much much harder and a lot more painful.

2 – Don’t silence your thoughts

Imagine I came to your house, stuffed a pair of gym socks in your mouth, and slapped a giant piece of duct tape on top. Then I tied up your hands and told you to sit there all day.

Would you have quite a bit to say to me when I returned and unbound you?
Well, that’s how it works with your mind.

When you try to push down, repress, tie it up, shut it up… it responds by working harder. The mind makes thoughts. That’s what it does.

Meditation is so uncomfortable at first because you’re suddenly consciously aware of exactly how insane your thoughts are.

That’s just thoughts. You don’t have the control. Let them be there.

3 – Don’t be “spiritual.”

The word “spiritual” is so heavy. It’s such a demanding thing.

And what I learned from being a songwriter for 15 year is that a practice – any practice – means you show up.

In the case of meditation, not because you’re so spiritual.

You show up even if you feel like shit.

You show up even when you’re a grouchy horrible person.

You show up even if you’re thinking hateful thoughts about your next door neighbor and his stupid leaf blower.

You show up even if the mind is saying things like, “You’ve meditated 5 minutes a day this week – how come your aura isn’t glowing yet?”

You show up because it’s just what you do.

The demand that you somehow be a “spiritual” person is WAY too much pressure. It’s part of the perfectionism trap. Let it go.

Now, let’s walk through the simple steps that helped me get started…

 

5 Steps to Starting your Meditation Practice:

1 – Download a meditation timer app.

My fave is “Meditation Timer.” Get the paid version so you don’t deal with ads.

Fuss with the settings, bells, times and other features. This will trick your left-brain that you are “being productive” and that this meditation thing is turning out to be quite interesting!

2 – Set a goal for five minutes.

Why 5 minutes?

Because what we’re going for here is a PRACTICE. And we start a practice by simply showing up.
Even when I was most resistant, I said to myself, “It’s five minutes. Come on. You can do anything for five minutes.”

If you start with 30 minutes, (or even 10 minutes!) you will not do it. Trust me. I know you. (You know you, too.)

3 – Schedule a time.

Decide what exact time you will meditate each day.

Do not say “in the morning.” Do not say, “Sometime in the afternoon.”

Pick a time. Set an alarm. Make it non-negotiable.

4 – Show up.

Do it. Sit there.

Eventually, you may want some guidance for how exactly to sit. Here’s a good video by Yoga Journal for how to use a chair for meditation.

5 – Provide Dopamine Snacks for that funny little brain of yours.

Dopamine Snack #1: Check it off a list.

When I started meditating, it was a task on my list. When I checked it off, I got a dopamine snack.

Sometimes I felt guilty for treating meditation like this. But at first, I needed that. It got me going.

Dopamine Snack #2: When hit your first 30-days, high-five yourself.

Call a friend and share the good news.

Then, check in with yourself. Do you want to add any time to your practice? Yeah? I suggest no more than 2 minutes. That’s because…come on…your inner achiever is itching to take over. It’ll say, “Yes! Let’s double it! Ten minutes!” And this beautiful blossoming practice will now become a little too much. Maybe not next week or the week after – but it will become too much. I recommend that you add one minute, maybe two minutes.

Do you meditate? Got anything to contribute that will help someone else like you get started? Share below please!

40 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • maria

    You are the bomb. LOve the way you present your teachings.
    Thank you for being authentic. REFRESHING.
    Enjoy
    Maria
    The Value Method
    916-716-1479

  • Rose Nyarangi

    My very favorite meditation is “the 6 phase meditation” by Vishen Lakhiani. Really easy to use and is a guided meditation. I also use the Omvana app to download meditation clips for those days that I need an extra push. I do my meditation first thing in the morning before I do anything. that way I kick start my morning.

  • Sarah

    Hi I taught myself to meditate by creating a “place of peace” I go to in my head. It’s like a guided journey. I follow the same steps to start the journey. There are several places I “go to” in the inner world depending on the time I have or how easy it is on any given day.
    I think of it as the garden of my mind. Some days I only make the patio some days I get right to the orchard other days just by the steam!
    When I reach where I feel comfortable on any given day then I just sit not only physically but in my mind in the space I have created.
    I have started leading small group sessions to share the journeys as so many struggle to start on their own and realise the benefits it gives the monkey mind!
    I love your Vision Board stuff by the way thank you for the insights you shared 🙏 I haven’t signed up as my mum is at the end stage of CHF and I need to see that through first. Sx

  • Tova Ramer

    Hi Christine and all,

    I’ve been meditating for many years and it’s always better when it’s regular and substantial ( daily + 10-30 minutes ). AM 5mins and PM 5mins at least.

    Including this in the curriculum is perfect. It’s an edge we can all have to take off the edge! Calm, Clear, Creative.

    I’m leaning into the worksheets.

    Thanks and regards,

    Tova

  • Melinda Fuentes

    Christine. I began my mediation practice about a year ago. I get out of bed, splash off my face, next I sit. Normally just 17-20 mins. At times I make time for longer in the evenings. I explored both the silent and guided mediation. I soon realized the silent one gave me the greatest benefit. In the beginning I would get a download (if you will); it varied from super overwhelming warmth and love and joy (which moved me to tears) then ideas came. As my self discovery expanded, the more those ideas turned to inspired action to take (towards fulfilling desires in my life). ALL IDEAS AROUND MY VISION BOARD INTENTIONS!

  • Kimm Jentzen

    I meditate everyday… just like exercise you have to adjust the time to your day. Some days you can’t spend 1/2 an hour…right? Meditation has done so much for me personally, I had major losses in my life last year, it kept me in touch with me so I could flow thru these losses and my responsibilities. I have grown as a being inside and out, the calm I felt afterwards was comforting and empowering. If I don’t meditate my day just seems off. I use Utube there are all kinds of meditations to choose from… 25 minutes works for me most days but there are 10 minute ones as well. Enjoy the experience and enjoy the self love time you give yourself!

  • maja barzut

    Hi Christine,
    thanks very much, love your tips. Following you on ‘up level you’, as well.
    have been doing meditation from time to time. and not quite got it.
    practice and persisstance, that is the way forward.
    much love Maja

  • Michelle

    Yes, I meditate. Currently I don’t meditate every single day. However, when I do here are a few ways I like to: 1. while taking a herbal bath, 2. playing my crystal singing bowls, 3. Listening to music, 4. using a crystal by holding it in my hand, placing it on or around my body, or sitting it directly in front of me, and 5. when doing Kemetic / Egyptian yoga.

  • Rosemarie

    Hi Christine, great tips on meditation!.
    I do practice meditation and what I learned is you never get it right and you never get it done! Just do it!
    Thanks Christine!

  • Joselyn

    Thank you for this. I meditate but not regularly. I purchased the app with the hopes that it will encourage me to make it a daily practice.

  • Avya

    Great blog on meditation!
    I agree five minutes is a great start as it is so doable!!
    I stress comfort is key, so no wrapping your self like a pretzel…a recliner is fine!
    I also like the free app called insight timer…it shows you how many people are meditating with you at the same time…like 4-8,000!! I find that very inspiring! I have been meditating for over 40 years, and am about to turn 60 and still have mostly brown hair–most definitely as a result of my practice!! thanks Christine!!

  • Susan

    Namaste Christine
    I loved your article on meditation. I edit Yoga Scene Today … previously NZ Yoga Scene but now we have gone global and would love to put this article with your contact deets into the up coming ‘name change’ launch issue. Let me know how you feel about this email NZ.YogsceneMagazine@yahoo.co.nz blessings in light and love ‘IAM’ Susan Pryor (Editor)

  • Susan

    Yes ! Just sit and do it and if you want a good read and fantastic tips take a look at Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris (from ABC news). This is his second book. He is hilarious in that self-depracating way that I so appreciate. Dan also has a podcast and meditation app both called 10% Happier. Can you tell I am a bit of a groupie???

  • Sharon Chemello

    Regarding the sock and duct tape thing …letting feelings come up .. I did a great anxiety course here in Oz with Andrew Pearce anxiety free living sadly he has finished up but some of his content would still be on the net , videos etc . He talks about a tennis ball in a bowl of water, great analogy ! So I actually bought a plastic fish bowl ( it’s actually sold as a cocktail bowl ) coloured the water blue with food colouring and put a colourful tennis ball in it as a reminder that it’s ok for stuff to pop up ! It’s on my Tough Love Coaching page on live video 15 ways out of anxiety . Hope it’s ok to post this Christine and team not promoting anything as just starting up so all my content is given free ! Just wanting to give back what I have learned , pay forward at this stage and always crediting sources !

  • Sharon Chemello

    Great article Christine very down to earth for beginners , will share to my page Tough Love Coaching in Brisbane . I also did a live video on vision boards and credited your work in this area ! You are doing great things ! I want to study transcendental meditation soon . There is a local school here . In the meantime I find breathing helps start the meditation , even something as simple as in for 4 hold for 4 out for 4 hold for 4 to get centred and started !

  • Valerie

    Insight Timer is my meditation app. It is free and has many features as well as timers and guided meditation; it is a wonderful tool. I agree that regular meditation is life changing. 🙂

  • Joanna

    I looked up Meditation Timer and there were a couple by that name. Which is the one you are recommending?

  • Jenny Sliker

    When I started meditating, I really did need to give my brain permission to just ramble all over the place. It became a mental exercise in learning to release all the junk and leave the space for inspiration and peace in silence to come in. A couple of things that are very helpful to me is setting an atmosphere. Lighting candles using relaxing music, incense or Palo Santo and a quiet private space where there aren’t any other intrusions.

  • Patricia Burgess Cossey

    Christine, soooo happy to see this article.
    My take on meditation.:
    First, I started yoga after my son died because my grief counselor suggested exercise (ugh!). I had never liked aerobics, jogging, running, sports, etc. (except cheerleading in high school). Anyway, I had always said I was going to try yoga. So I did. At the end of each yoga session, the instructor led a 10 minute meditation. At first, I couldn’t concentrate, you know, grief and all. So I just enjoyed the release of tension from the yoga and the music. Then one day, it just happened. No timer, no setting a schedule. I just started meditating. I think it had to do with getting unstressed enough and relaxed enough and not trying too hard. But different things work for different people. Now I meditate to the 6th level. Bliss.
    Love you and all you’ve done for me through the years…

    • Sharon Chemello

      So glad you have found ways through your grief can’t inagine ! Much love !

  • Signe

    This reached me at the perfect time! Thank you!

  • Maylin Sambois Sanchez

    Love this! Thank you so much for sharing!
    I will share this with my VIP customer group!!
    Today, I will do 5 minutes of meditation 🙂

    Have a great day!
    Maylin

  • Debby

    I meditate by talking to Jesus called prayer. It’s simple, no rituals or rules. It’s just having a relationship with Jesus.

  • paulette

    Wow, seemed like you wrote this email just for me today.

    Yoga introduced me to mediation and more so, intention. All this calm and peace stuff felt so foreign when I started meditating and carving out 5 min just to sit seemed ridiculous. But you know what, I just did it. Screw the excuses. I just literally got fed up with all the “thought chaos” in my head and decided one morning to sit up in bed and start my day by just being still for 5 minutes. I didn’t have a timer but trusted that I would know when 5 minutes was up.

    In the beginning, just sitting there with my eyes closed, I felt like a weirdo and thought about what I should wear, made mind lists of what I should be doing and then my mind would send assaults saying “get up! get going! you’re wasting time!”….those were so loud I almost opened my eyes and quit.

    So I started to pray (because that was familiar to me and felt easy) and that is often the start to my “meditating”…I pray to express my concerns, my desires and my gratitude. After sitting for a few minutes my mind just goes to this “blankness” where I feel really calm but energized (if that makes sense). There is a lot of hype about meditation and spirituality….put that aside and realize that it is a little personal time for you to be with your own thoughts. That initial 5 minutes is now 30-40minutes every morning.

    I too, am an overachiever but meditating gave me time to have an awareness about me and I love it!

    You don’t need a bunch of proof.
    There is no right or wrong way.
    Make it your own.
    It works!
    Do it!

    Respectfully,
    Paulette

  • Madhvi

    Christine you just kicked ass with the info i needed to reaffirm i need to committ and just show up..else when i take it luxuriously then i may miss a few days and will need to start all over again!
    The second thing youvdescribed is not to suppress .. which means break downs are ok… no judging urself.. thx ! Will try!!

  • Sheila

    I enjoyed the article very much. I can relate to a what you said. I do meditate for 15 minutes each day, I think I will definitely incorporate a set time of the day, not say I will do it at a particular time of the day. Thank you for the article.

  • Vera Ramlal

    Hi Christine,
    Thank you so much for your genuine feedback.
    This reminder has convinced me that I need to start today……..even if its just 5 mins.

    Thanks again and much love to you!!!
    VR

  • jennifer Churchman

    I walked for meditation (and still do) but the site that really worked for me personally is http://www.headspace.com. I find with my “creative, talkative” mind having it guided with prompts of what to do when to stop etc. frees my mind and gives me little boundaries to let go within. Love your posts.

    • Christine Kane

      Jennifer – Headspace is a great app. I recommend it all the time to clients! Thanks for sharing!

  • carol

    Thank you Kristine, this is how I used to meditate but have put it away. I tell myself ok lets clear out the clutter. And tell myself to take breathing fun level and do a round of 5 to 10 relaxing deep in and out on a 4 count. Slow and steady. I am so relaxed and have a clear mind. If the head noise starts go back to breathing rountine. Many of my problems disappear.

  • Bonnie McNulty

    Hi Christine!
    Loving the VB Pro program! I’ve been meditating for many years and love your no nOn sense approach. I also like the Mindfulness App…the free meditations are nice and you. An set a timer for several different amounts of time.
    I’ve been a yoga & meditation Teacher for 10 years and definitely agree that you need to start slow and steady!
    Have a great day!
    Peace,
    Bonnie

  • dawn matze

    christine, i just loved your article! so right on! its me all the way, in fact, i often feel that if i use a guided meditation somehow im cheating (the inner judge of course) i have done meditation now for almost 2 months now and can see my thought patterns clearer than ever. i am up to 14 minutes was my longest (some 2 minutes) !!! making great strides! thank you again for your honesty! so refreshing!
    Dawn

  • Carolyn McCarter Wood

    This is maybe the best real life article about meditating I have read. Love the dopamine snacks idea! Thank you

  • Dr. Anna

    Thanks for the morning giggle. And for inspiring me to try one more time 🙂

  • Yvette Williams

    I started to meditate but sometimes I don’t know if im doing it right.

  • Seema Kamat

    Initially it was very difficult as you said.
    I started doing Pranic healing Twin heart meditation, it’s guided
    N in the end Guru says he will chant I’m silently mentally chant along with him
    Focusing on brilliant light on ur head all d while.And in between one I’m n another I’m there is a gap.
    Be aware of gap n light on your head.Nine time on chant
    Surprisingly being aware of mentally chanting with guru n being aware gap between one on and another for nine OMS.
    My mind started becoming aware of only on n light
    And full day I started chanting om n trying to b aware of gap.
    This helped me to little thoughtless for five minutes when I sit for meditation n gradually I increased time.
    Not only that full day I started observing thoughts eliminating more of negative thoughts n focusing on positive, this way gratitude increased mind became less stressful
    So that meditation time I could focus

  • Trish Rux

    This is exactly what I tell my students! Also, link the meditation time to a habit you already have…like brushing your teeth. You will then train yourself that, “when I’m finished brushing my teeth I meditate for 5 minutes”, you don’t have to think about it, you just do it.

  • Amanda R Berenguel Smolka

    My favorite meditation app is Calm. It’s AMAZING!!!

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