In today’s busy and hectic world, the need to take care of our physical and mental well-being has never been more paramount. The benefits of regular meditation are endless; not only is meditation scientifically proven to reduce stress, increase focus, and improved our sleeping patterns, but it also works on a very physical level too, strengthening our immune system, aiding us in keeping those winter bugs at bay.
Whilst we might be familiar with the many plus points of regular meditation, often the difficult part comes when we try putting it into practice. It might sound obvious, but meditation only works when we actually do it. Simply thinking about the idea of meditation sadly doesn’t cut it. More importantly, meditation only really works when we establish a routine, and make it a regular practice.
Perhaps the clearest illustration of this comes when we compare the mind to exercising the body. We can splash out on an expensive gym membership, buy ourselves the latest, snazziest running shoes but all of this is fruitless if we never make it through the front gate. The magic happens when we get down and do it – and the same applies to meditation.
With this in mind, we’ve put together some tips which should help you in establishing a regular meditation practice.
How to Ensure a Regular Meditation Practice
Morning time is best. Meditating in the morning will ensure that it gets done. If it’s left to later in the day, it can often leave room for excuses of ‘I’ll do it later’. Meditating in the morning also makes for a perfect start to the day and will clear away any overhanging tiredness.
Stick to the same place. This will help you to establish a familiar routine, making it easier to stick to. Your environment is really important – make sure it’s somewhere quiet and calm, which allows you the space to ‘switch off’.
Prioritize. Try to prioritize your regular meditation session in the same way that you would an important appointment or meeting at work. Nothing is more important than the health of your mind, and it will thank you for putting it top of the list!
Be flexible. There will be times when it’s just not possible to stick to your usual routine. Make sure you don’t let yourself use that an excuse to skip it altogether. If your routine is thrown out of sync for some reason, simply make some time to do it later in the day.
Think of your regular meditation in relation to something else. Some people find that ‘attaching’ their meditation to another activity helps them to establish a routine – think ‘brush your teeth and meditate’ or ‘meditate and make cup of tea’. Whatever helps you make a connection to an already established routine.
Take a moment to soak in the benefits after each session. Try and check-in with yourself after your meditation and notice how you feel on both a mental and physical level. By doing this, you will be training your mind to relate your calm, clearer state to your meditation – which will, in turn, make it easier to get into a comfortable routine.
Don’t make judgments. Try not to analyze each session too much. It’s natural to want to categorize your meditation into being either ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Essentially, it doesn’t matter either way. There is either distraction or non-distraction – and neither are negative. We are simply heightening our awareness.
Take a friend along for the ride. If you have a friend also looking to establish a regular practice, try and share your experiences. Knowing that someone else is making the same effort will make you more wary of letting them down, and will strengthen your resolve.
Make note of your excuses. Try and keep a pen and piece of paper handy so if you do decide to skip your meditation, you can jot down your reasoning. Seeing your reasons written down on paper will most likely remind you that you do have the time, and re-affirm the importance of making the time.
Be realistic. Take the pressure off and be realistic in your expectations. Whilst you will likely feel some benefits immediately, others might take a bit longer. Meditation is a skill for life, and something that you will be building on each time you sit. Take one day at a time and see where it takes you…
About the author: this article was written by Tom Key on behalf of www.Headspace.com, creators of a modern meditation app.
Photo: Sean Kelly