For years “meditate” was on the top of my New Year’s intentions list. I would go into the new year full of fire and start a practice whole heartedly but somewhere over the course of the year the commitment would fade. I knew meditation was good for me and that it could do wonders for my mind, body, and spirit. And, although I deeply desired having a daily meditation practice and read countless books on how to meditate, it took me years of having an on again off again practice to fully incorporate meditation into my daily routine.
So How Did I Do It?
Let me start by saying meditation is no simple task. We are constantly encouraged to quiet our minds, watch our thoughts with no attachment, clear out the to-do lists and zen out. That’s a tall order in a world that bombards us with demands, deadlines, and a whole lot of stress to manage. It can be overwhelming but meditation is exactly what we need. The benefits of meditation are vast and include, reduced stress, lower blood pressure, increase immunity, balance emotions, boost creativity and sharpen memory.
6 Tips to Start a Meditation Practice
Create Space and Time – When starting my practice, I found it very helpful to create both a physical space and space in my daily schedule for meditation. Find a space in your home that is quite and you are drawn to. Create a simple altar and place a few meaningful items on it. On my altar I have a some candles, rocks I have collected from my favorite spots and several statues of deities I am drawn to. Set aside time in your schedule dedicated for your practice. I like to do my meditation 1st thing in the morning but you don’t have to. If I miss my morning meditation for some reason, I adjust my day so I can find some time later. Be flexible when it is needed but try for consistency.
Find a Comfortable Seat – No need to be uncomfortable. It’s difficult to quite the mind when your body is screaming at you. I have a cushion and blanket I sit on but my husband likes to do his meditation in the chair in front of our fireplace. Often with the dog sitting in his lap.
Just Breath – A great place to start is with the breath. Taking slow deep breaths into your belly and letting them go with ease and your full attention is a beautifully simple form of meditation. Breathing deep slows the heart rate, relaxes the body, focuses the mind and is an ideal way to begin your practice.
Start Small – Set a time goal that is realistic for you. Start with 15 minutes a day. I read a statistic that said the average American watch 4 hours of TV/day and who knows how much time we spend surfing the web and engaging in social media. Fifteen minutes is not a lot of time. Then slowly increase the amount of time you spend in your practice.
Find Community – It is easier to maintain momentum in establishing your practice if you know you’re not alone, and as a beginner it’s great to have a place to ask questions and share your experience. You could simply ask a friend to commit with you or explore the many options in your community. When my sister began her practice she joined a meditation Meetup group. I have had my daily practice for many years but I still find it very helpful to meditate with others. Also try your local yoga studio as they often offer meditation nights. I attend the free mediation sangha (community) at Laughing Buddha Yoga Studio on Monday nights.
Experiment and Explore – There are countless ways to meditate and many different styles and traditions. Listen to CDs, MP3s, podcasts, read books or articles, or join one of Deepak’s 21 day meditation challenges. Explore and experiment, but when you find a practice that works for you stick with it.
Wishing You Vibrant Living