By now we've all heard the benefits of establishing a daily meditation practice. Among other things, it helps to lower blood pressure, improves sleep and can even rewire the brain.
However, if you're like me, and I'm guessing there are a lot of you out there that are, then finding time to meditate seems like another thing on the list of to-dos. How on earth are you going to fit in ONE MORE THING?
Believe me, I know the feeling.
Yes, I aim to have a consistent daily practice, but gone are the days when my time is my own. Right now baby Noah is my main focus and we mainly operate on his timeline, not mine. It's taking me a while to adjust to this, but the more I give in to his flow, the easier it has become to find my own.
I'm here to tell you that it's possible. You can absolutely find time to meditate each and every day. The first step is to change your perspective on what sitting down to meditate is supposed to look like and do it as it appears to you each day.
What do I mean? Students often ask how to start a meditation practice. What I find in talking to them is that they get stuck with this fanciful idea of having to have all the right materials, space and availability on their calendars BEFORE they can even sit down to meditate. When I tell them to start with 1-2 minutes a day I get a lot of blank stares.
"You mean I don't need to do this twenty minutes a day?" No, you don't. In fact, if you try that to begin, then you'll probably give up after day three. Establishing a well-rounded meditation practice takes time, patience and practice.
My advice. Start small and build from there. All you really need is comfortable seat and few minutes to get started. It's that easy.
Here are my top seven tips for establishing a daily meditation practice.
- Start small. Giving yourself small, attainable goals each day will help you stick with it! Start with 1-2 minutes and work your way up to 3-5, then 8-10, and so on. Make it your goal to meet your mark on a weekly basis.
- Keep track. Make yourself accountable and track your progress. Use a journal and write about your experience. I love using the Meditation Insight Timer app for my phone. I use it to keep time, log my activity and see my stats over time. I need this in order to stay motivated. You might not. Find what works for you!
- Find the Right Time. Some people love to meditate in the morning, others love it at night. You have to try it a few different ways in order to find the one that works for you. I love meditating in the afternoon or just before bed, but it took me some trial and error to figure this out. Give it a go and see what time calls to you.
- Get comfortable. There's no use trying to meditate if your back hurts and all you can think about is the throbbing in your knee. Yes, absolutely there are seats of meditation in the yoga practice, but if that's not comfortable for you then how will you stick with it? Try sitting in a chair or with your back against a wall. Use a cushion or pillow to sit on. Just don't get so comfortable that you fall asleep!
- Follow the breath. There are LOTS and LOTS of meditation techniques. The more you practice the more you'll find the one that resonates with you. Keep it simple to begin. Follow the breath in and out through the nose. Whenever the mind wanders, come back to your inhale and exhale. This will help create focus and concentration, which are the first steps towards true meditation.
- Consistency is key. Keep it up and keep consistent. If you miss a day, don't worry about it. Just start again tomorrow. The key is to "start again" and to come back to your practice. Be disciplined in your approach and make it consistent.
- Do it because it needs to be done. Some days you might not want to sit and meditate. You may be too tired or, let's face it, you'd rather NOT sit with your own thoughts for another minute. If you're feeling unmotivated then that's the time you really need it most. Push aside your feelings about not doing your practice and get it done. You'll feel much better once you do, I promise!
What are your favorite meditation techniques? How do you make time to sit each day? What does your daily practice look like? Share your thoughts in the comments below and let's support one another!