HOW TO MEDITATE with Bryan Hogan (pt. 1)

1) How do I create a meditation routine from scratch?

My meditation routine is more of a series of preparations. If I'm considering meditation as a state of being that spontaneously arises (and isn't something I can make happen, just because I feel like it), then everything I do in my practice is really just preparation. What I mean by that is I try to practice the things that will set up my space and mind to be as calm and turned inward as possible. So back to my routine - I clean up my room, and try to remember why I practice. I love the word "remember". We can consider our members as the different parts of ourselves - arms, legs, body, mind, etc,. When I prepare for my practice, I spend some time trying to get and feel my intention into my body and all its parts, to see if I can get all of myself to work towards one single aim - enter meditation!  

On implementing a daily practice - I'd say, pick a reliable time of day, a calming place and a duration to practice and stick to it! Find all the necessary support you can (candles, incense, gemstones, pictures of people special to you)  - whatever truly will encourage you to sit. For a while I had a repeating calendar invite with my favorite emoji on it (). I still have those days where the only way I'll get myself to sit is by saying I'm going to practice for 30 seconds. Being flexible in how long I'm telling myself I'm going to sit has been really helpful for me, as the hardest part is always just getting started!


2) How do I get back on after I fell off?

I love this question, because it makes me think of my experience in the practice of meditation itself. Ex: I'm trying to focus on the sensation of my breath and my mind starts to wander. How do I get my attention back to my breath? It's just like your question, "how do I get back into meditation after a long pause?" The simple answer is just start again! Start anywhere! Do it really badly! I'm serious about that. Start so small - right now! Close your eyes and count to 10. Try to feel some deep and easy breaths move through your body - READYYYYY... GO!!!! 

To elaborate a bit more, some people will be able to restart easily and naturally after a break in meditation. Others may need a push or the support of a group or friend. Shoot me a DM (yoga.bryan.hogan), I'd love to practice together! Bringing it back to your first question, don't underestimate the preparations for meditation. If I can remember why I practice, then it can make it much more inviting to sit down. 


3) How do you use mindfulness during a crisis?

Phew! This is a tough question for me! 

Generally speaking, I think it's best to practice meditation in the most favorable conditions possible (especially for beginners) and NOT while we're triggered or in crisis. If we carve out time to practice when conditions are suitable, we'll hopefully be more prepared for the "real game" (by which I mean the trigger/crisis moment). If I'm triggered, then I'm likely experiencing a lot of reactivity. In other words, I'm in a mind state where I'm less likely to be mindful. 'Trigger' is a good word here, because it speaks to a reaction that happens faster than we can see; before I can realize it, I'm already doing or thinking the habitual thing I know how to do when I'm triggered in this way. 

The Buddhists have been stewards and keepers to many of the remaining meditative practices for thousands of years. One of the core Buddhist claims is, "life is suffering" of which they suggest meditation as a key tool used to ameliorate that suffering. So in the context of your question, let's rework the Buddhist saying to read, "you will definitely be triggered and experience crises in your life aka experience suffering." They're not 1-to-1 the same thing, but if we frame it this way, maybe it gives us an interesting insight into the question and a possible starting point of an answer... Crisis is a part of life. A dedicated/consistent practice of meditation can help reduce suffering. Test it out, see if it works for you!

Ironically, it's in the trigger/crisis moment where lots of meditators actually finally 'buy-in' to the practice. To say it a different way, I've seen students practice meditation consistently, and then they experience some thing that nearly always upsets  them badly. But instead of their normal, upset reaction, they surprise themselves and find they're much less reactive than they expected! They're so surprised, in fact, that they have to step back and ask, "What's going on here? I'm usually so upset by this thing and it doesn't bother me so badly right now. How wonderful! What's responsible for this change?" Upon further reflection it usually dawns on them that maybe some of it could be their meditation practice.