Quaff these words like the pure and honest mantra they’re intended to be. Let them swirl around your tongue and teeth, tickle them with doubt if you need to, then swallow.
The true source of Happiness is inner peace.
We immerse ourselves in an ocean of material possessions, situations and experiences in the hope that they’ll soak us in happiness.
Holidays, adventures, a new pair of shoes, the latest mobile phone, cinema screen TVs, a flashy car…even simple pleasures like a daily dose of specialty coffee or that fresh butter croissant you can’t resist walking past the bakery.
They’re all just dopamine waves that wash over you, filling you with momentary feelings of joy before disappearing back into the abyss.
The purpose of meditation is to clear and calm the mind and eventually, bring you an inner peace that can keep you happy even in the most adverse situations.
I’d say you can definitely feel better after a one-off session but to discover the true benefits it needs to become a regular thing. We manage to find six hours a day to play around on the internet yet we’ll seriously struggle when it comes to dedicating five, ten, fifteen minutes to just sit still and allow ourselves this mental detox.
I wanted to get a bit of guidance on how to make it a lifelong custom, so I attended the ‘How to set up a daily meditation practice‘ workshop at Kadampa Meditation Centre in Liverpool. The course was led by teacher and Hero , Ken Evans who gave me a whole new appreciation for the Scouse accent…softly spoken and with every word considered, he started us off with a body scan.
It reminded me of my first ever meditation nineteen years ago, which I didn’t actually realise was meditation until more than a decade later.
I was in the attic of an old building of Belvedere School, our gregarious and perfectly whacky drama teach Mrs McGreggor had us lay down on the floor with our eyes closed. She sent us off into a deep imaginative state scanning our bodies using sounds of the sea washing upwards from our feet and drifting back away.
I’m not just saying this to romanticise the idea of my first meditation; this is one of the most vivid school memories I have and I can still feel the overwhelmingly powerful sensations involved in using clarity of mind to calm my thoughts and body.
It amazes me every time I sit through a guided body scan just how tense I am – even my legs and toes are taut.
By focusing on relaxing the body inch by inch you can feel an incredibly powerful release. It feels like your melting. Your whole entire body sinks into the chair, the aches in your shoulders dissolve, your stomach muscles let go and your knees fall to the side.
It’s physical representation of accepting ourselves and just being who we are.
How to set up a daily meditation practice
The first half of the workshop was more of an introduction to meditation and why we need it.
Ken used a lot of personal examples to explain how easily our minds can become clouded, how moods can be contagious and Happiness and Suffering are just a state of mind.
Negative moods in the office, panicking about deadlines and road rage – it was all so relatable. And as much as he referenced mental distractions, he also talked a lot about digital ones which I’ve talked about in detail in Dopamine Junkies.
After a coffee break soaking up the sun in the gardens of the World Peace Cafe we returned for the second part of the workshop during which Ken gave us some practical guidance for setting up a daily meditation practice.
As somebody who is already doing their best to meditate at least once every day, I had wondered what I was going to get out of attending, but here it is. A small, easy to do action plan for getting the best out of my meditation.
Having a dedicated, decluttered physical space for meditation is essential – peaceful surroundings help cultivate a peaceful mind. With sunny skies my spot is sat on my beauty-full rainbow threaded cushion in the garden, facing the sun feeling its light and warmth on my face and body.
Focusing on why you’re meditating and what you’ll get out of it – this will give you the motivation you need to keep it up.
Just like we get up in the morning and brush our teeth, have a shower, eat our breakfast and sip our teas and coffees, meditation needs to become a habit, a routine that becomes a solid feature of our morning ritual.
Sitting tall with a straight back so our internal winds can flow, the crown of our heads reaching the sky with our chins slightly lowered, palms facing will keep us alert and focused but also relaxed.
And last but not least, don’t forget the most important mantra…