5 tips for building a regular meditation practiceBy Linda Emslie on 26 October 2016
One of the most common complaints I hear from people starting into a meditation routine, or returning to their practice from a break, is: “I don’t meditate as often as I should.” It’s a challenge I hear expressed by clients and friends alike, as well as members of my meditation circle. Hell, I'm no stranger to it either. So if you're feeling this way, you're not alone.
So here are some tips to help you along.
Firstly, let’s break this down a bit: “I don’t meditate as often as I should.”
The very first stumbling block is “should”. Why should you meditate? A better question is: Why do you want to meditate? If you can clearly identify that you are choosing to take up a meditation practice because it provides something you need in your life right now, the easier it will be for you to start and maintain a regular practice. Step away from the guilt of “should” and step up to the empowerment of doing something wonderful for you.
Do some inner exploration: what do you want and how will meditation support this?
The next challenge is identifying how often you want to meditate. All the experts, and certainly most of the research supports the idea that daily meditation brings the highest benefits. Certainly, more meditation is better than some. Some meditation is definitely better than none! In an ideal world we would all be meditating every day. And that is a great goal to aim for.
Start with establishing baby steps to get you there. Work out what your existing schedule will comfortably support and block that time out for you. Make this time non-negotiable. As Pamela Miles (highly respected, International Reiki Master) says, “Make a date with yourself. And keep it. You don’t break dates with people you love, do you?”
And when I say non-negotiable I mean this is a boundary to be respected both internally and externally. Stay committed to yourself and stick to your inner agreement and this will send a powerful message to those in your outer world that you are serious about being uninterrupted. Help them to respect your boundary, by first honouring it yourself.
Once you start to reap the benefits of “some” meditation, space will magically open in your schedule to support more meditation. If daily meditation is what you are aiming for, set that intent and work steadily towards that goal.
Meditation is a learned skill. It is not easy to sit in stillness and quieten the mind! Be patient, be gentle, and be persistent. And forgive yourself for any little setbacks.
Sometimes the level of frustration and perceived inability to do something comes just before you have a little breakthrough. So stick with it, and be kind to yourself. And reward yourself for sticking with it. Invest in that meditation stool or download you’ve been eyeing off for a while!
It’s also a good idea to start small with short blocks of meditation time. Just like a marathon runner, you need to build up stamina and endurance. Expecting that you “should” be able to sit and meditate for 30 mins at your very first session is guaranteed to leave you feeling frustrated and possibly inadequate. Certainly not a frame of mind conducive to motivating a continued love affair with meditation!
Break it down. Start small. You are building neuromuscles … so to speak.
Finally, work out what sort of meditation really works for you. There are a number of different forms to choose from including mindfulness, focused attention, chanting and mantras, following the breath, journey meditation, and so on. So experiment and discover which method works best for you.
In summary, here are my recommended ...
5 tips to establishing a regular meditation practice.
- Step away from the guilt of “should” and step up to the empowerment of doing something wonderful for yourself. Identify why you want to establish a meditation practice.
- Make a date and keep it. Identify what is “regular” that can be easily slotted in to your existing schedule. Block out that time and dedicate it to yourself.
- Acknowledge and understand that you are learning a new skill. Take your time to learn this skill thoroughly. There is no rush or reason to match somebody else’s meditation skill or schedule.
- Start small. Even 5 minutes a day is a start. Once you are easily incorporating that meditation block in to your busy schedule, challenge yourself by increasing the duration.
- Try different types of meditation to find the one that suits you best.