How to start a daily meditation practice
There’s a Zen proverb that goes: “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” The busier you are, the more likely you’re in need of some time out to just sit and be. But no matter how hectic your schedule is, everyone can benefit from a regular meditation practice. It's an incredible form of self-care.
What is mindfulness meditation?
There are many different types of meditation, but the form that most people start with is mindfulness meditation. It’s a way of grounding yourself in the present moment by bringing your awareness to your breath. All you have to do is sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and follow your breath as it moves in and out of your body.
Sounds easy, right? Well, it would be easy if we didn’t have so many thoughts flying around in our minds all the time. This constant mind chatter that we listen to all day can become so loud and noisy that it’s hard to focus on anything else! That’s why learning to meditate is so important – it allows you to quiet the mind so you can regain clarity and calmness.
But you won’t be able to stop your thoughts completely – at least, not at the beginning. Your mind will wander off and that’s okay. Accept whatever thoughts or sensations arise without any judgement or attachment. Notice when your mind wanders, then gently bring it back to the breath. The practice of returning to your breath will strengthen your mindfulness muscles and ability to stay in present moment awareness.
Why should you start a meditating?
If your mind was an internet browser, how many tabs would you have open right now? Yep, we’re guessing it’s a lot. It’s a real struggle to focus on just one thought or task at a time – we love to multi-task and we’re always caught between thoughts. But that’s what mindfulness is all about – bringing all of your attention to what’s happening right now. It’s about slowing down and becoming more intentional with our thoughts and actions.
Maybe you want to start meditating because you want to feel less stressed or be more focused. You might want to deepen your knowledge of yourself and meditation is part of a bigger personal growth plan. Or maybe you’re just craving some peace and quiet to be by yourself every day. Whatever your reason, having a meditation practice will have an amazing impact on your mental health and clarity, your relationships and your life in general.
How to start a meditation practice that sticks
Set a goal before you start
What do you want your meditation practice to look like? Whether it’s committing to 20 minutes of seated meditation every day or simply remembering to take a few deep, conscious breaths before you start a task, it’s helpful to have a goal in mind. It’s also important to know what you want to get out of your meditation practice – feeling more grounded and calm for example. But don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or two. You don’t want it to become a burden, so start as small as you need to make it easier for you to keep at it.
Find a time that suits you
First thing in the morning is a popular time to meditate, but if you already struggle to wake up in the morning or you’re always rushing out the door, then an early meditation might feel like a chore. Instead, why not set aside 10 minutes before bed to clear your mind and sit in silence before sleeping? To make sure you don’t forget to meditate, you could also try pairing it with something else in your daily routine, like after you brush your teeth or before you have lunch. Honour whatever routine works for you.
Make it a ritual
Adding something to activate your senses to mark the beginning of the meditation will help to bring you into the present moment. Try lighting a candle or incense, putting on some comfy clothes or splashing your face with cold water. After a while, your brain will start to associate the physical sensation of smelling and feeling with meditation, helping you to drop into the right state of mind.
Dedicate a space for your meditation
Although you can pretty much meditate anywhere, it’s nice to have a special place where you go to do your meditation. This could be outside in nature or simply a cosy corner of your home which you can decorate with things that inspire you or make you feel calm.
Wherever you choose to meditate, make sure you’re sitting in a posture that’s comfortable for you. You might want to try sitting cross-legged on the floor with a cushion, upright in a chair or even lying down. If you’re sitting, have a relaxed yet wakeful posture with a tall spine, relaxed neck and chin slightly tucked. The more comfortable you are, the longer you’ll be able to sit in meditation without feeling distracted by discomfort.
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