How To Create & Build Your Meditation Practice
We've all heard about the benefits of meditation backed up by science and research: it reduces stress and anxiety, improves concentration, and increases well-being and happiness. If you want to learn more about these benefits, you can do so here. The big question is: if we’ve all heard about these benefits, why aren’t we all meditating already?
Find Time To Meditate
One of the most common reasons people give for not getting around to doing things they’ve been meaning to do is that that they simply don’t have the time. Meditation is no exception; it’s something that if we want to do, we have to acknowledge that it is important to us and thus make it a priority. Meditation is an opportunity to set aside some time during the day to slow down, reconnect to ourselves and to the environment around us. Many people meditate right after they wake up as a way to kick start their day. Others like to meditate right before bed as a way to wind down and to induce better sleep.
Whether you want to spend five minutes or fifty minutes meditating, recognize that even a short amount of time can positively impact you, especially if you create a consistent practice. Make a conscious decision to set aside a specific amount of time to devote to your meditation. If you’re new to meditation, try a five-minute session and see how you feel. Over time, you can extend your session to ten minutes, and continue to add more minutes over time.
Starting Your Meditation Practice Today Is Easy
One of the best parts about meditation is that anyone can do it anywhere. Once you have set aside the time to begin your meditation session, find a comfortable seat. Maybe this means you sit in a chair with both feet grounded on the floor. Alternatively, maybe it means sitting cross-legged on the ground. You can sit on a pillow, a yoga block or bolster, or a blanket to lift your hips slightly above your thighs – this will help you to feel even more grounded through your sit bones. Close your eyes and imagine that someone’s hand is above your head and is ever so gently helping you lift your spine upwards. Feel your spine elongating as you maintain good posture. Breathe naturally, effortlessly. Focus on your breath as you breathe in and breathe out. Notice any sensations you may be feeling throughout your body. Maybe your knee starts to itch all of a sudden or you observe that your legs feel sore from yesterday’s workout. Don’t worry; just keep breathing.
The inevitable will happen. You’ll be ever so focused on your breathing and feeling more zen than ever when you suddenly remember that stressful project at work or the conversation you had with your friend last night pops up into your head. Thoughts, feelings, and emotions arising during your practice are completely natural: let them rise to the surface, acknowledge them and then let them go. And again, return to your breath. If ever in doubt, you always have your breath to focus on. Return to the present moment in which you exist and accept that is where you are right here, right now.
How To Make Your Meditation Practice Your Own
There are countless resources in print and on the internet where you can learn more about the different types of and approaches to meditation. You can try a visualization meditation, a love and kindness meditation, a walking meditation, just to name a few. But don’t forget to listen to yourself. Maybe what you really need is to listen to a new song you just discovered on repeat for ten minutes. Do that– just remember to keep breathing. If you want to use a mantra to focus on, you don’t have to pick a typical one; make up your own or repeat a word that brings a sense of stillness to you. If your back hurts and you don’t want to sit up straight, lie down. Give yourself permission to do what feels good and to honor what you’re feeling in the moment.
Meditation can be a thoughtful part of your daily routine and life. It is a reminder to ourselves that we can and should reconnect to ourselves by focusing on the one thing that we always have, our breath. It is an acknowledgement that in the modern, tech-driven world in which we live, we can choose to unplug and find ourselves to be enough. The best part is that we can carry the peace, lightness, and openness that we experience during meditation even beyond the five minutes we’ve set aside for our practice. This new-found meditativeness–as a way of being, existing and interacting with the world around us– is something we can carry within ourselves no matter where we are or where we are going.