How to Kickstart the Meditation Habit
Mindfulness is just like exercise, for the shoulders upwards. And just as exercise increases health, helps us handle stress better and promotes longevity, meditation amplifies those same benefits. Here are some ideas for making your meditation practice a part of your everyday life.
- Mentally Commit. First, and most important, commit to a daily practice. That means whether it is 5 minutes or 45 minutes, commit to doing a daily meditation and complete the duration you set out. If you miss a day, just observe it and let it go. Just get right back on the train as best you can. Worrying would only discourage meditators.How much time is needed to benefit from meditation? The data isn’t conclusive yet to answer this question. Some studies suggest that practicing even 10 minutes a day can provide some benefits. While other studies suggest that there is a correlation between change in symptoms and amount of practice (i.e. those that practiced more derived greater benefits). Most meditation coaches recommend attending at least one class a week in which you practice for 30 to 45 minutes, then practicing 5 to 45 minutes 1 day on your own. Like exercise, if you miss a couple days, just get back on to training. The more you train, the more benefits you will get to achieve the level of stress reduction and mind-body connection that you want.
- Find a Great Coach: Can’t stop thinking and can’t find the off button for your mind? First, work with a meditation coach. Although meditation is seemingly simple, for anyone starting, a great coach is key to understanding the process. Just as experienced drivers can operate a vehicle like it’s second nature, it was probably a big hurdle to learn how to operate a car at first. Meditation can be similar. Simple but there’s room for confusion. So it’s useful to have a coach who knows you and can give you guidance on how to deepen the meditation.
- Find a Time and Space that you Love. Finding a spot makes committing to a practice much easier. It doesn’t matter if it’s sitting up in your bed first thing in the morning or finding a spot on the couch. Just knowing that there is one ‘space’ where you can be quiet, undisturbed and go back to time and time again will make a big difference.
- Set A Routine. Humans are creatures of habit. We can find time to surf the web but a new habit, like meditation, are tough to start. No matter how much you have always wanted to try meditation, the only way to start is to schedule it in. As you begin, experiment with different meditation practises. If longer practices seem intimidating, stick with the shorter ones. If your morning is filled with too many obligations, then try lunch or evening times.
- Don’t Try Too Hard. Adopt an attitude of curiosity as you begin your meditation practice. Try not to judge a wandering mind, even if thoughts come up from everywhere like popcorn. It happens. Just allow your practise to be where it is and keep bringing yourself back to the focal point – be it the coach’s voice or awareness of the breath. In mindfulness meditation, the goal is not to try to change anything. The goal is instead to be aware of the desire to change it and then see if we can just relax and be ok with it even if it doesn’t change.
Finally, remember to be compassionate towards yourself. Give yourself unconditional love in the process. Picking up a new good habit is not without challenges. With patience and practice, your meditation skills will progress. Now, find a great coach you can start with!