Net Cotton Content reader, Ann Marie Mecera asks,

"I would love to try meditation. However, the thought of sitting still for more than five minutes makes me squirm. Any pointers for those of us who sorely need meditation because we think we need to be doing several things at one time?"

I, too, struggle with sitting still. Life wants us in constant motion.

In response, Jim Coe reminds us of the lost tourist in New York City who asks a passer-by, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" The answer? "Practice, practice, practice."

Jim's right: meditation is a practice, not a skill. The only next step is to practice.

Is It Easy?
When five minutes seems like the limit, I meditate for five minutes. If I can sit easily for six minutes, I stay for six.

I remember what the Transcendental Meditation folks taught me: We don't assess the quality of our meditation on whether it is good or well done, but rather whether it is easy. We seek only to sit peacefully, not to express some grand talent.

The TM teachers never ask, "Was it good?" They ask, "Was it easy?"

What Now?
While I've enjoyed TM, sitting quietly is also good (just not as researched and fine-tuned for effectiveness). Here are some possibilities:

  1. read Shunryu Suzuki's Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
  2. read anything by Thich Nhat Hanh
  3. simply sit quietly … with eyes closed … as you inhale, think a word (try "open-minded") … as you exhale, think a related word (such as "acceptance"). I also like "understanding"/"compassion" and "curiosity"/"creativity."

Let's leap over disbelief and the counter-cultural weirdness of sitting quietly.

For me, meditation works.