When you consider a new habit or hobby, there’s always a moment where you feel like you’ve jumped into the deep end without a life vest. If you’ve dipped your toes into the world of meditation, you may have found the jargon overwhelming.
Isn’t it just about sitting in silence and breathing?
Yes. Despite the fancy trappings like gongs or sitting stools, at its core, meditation is sitting with yourself. It’s concentrating on your breath rather than your thoughts. It’s as simple as finding time and breathing.
But when you go looking for tips or chat with people who have been in the community for a long time, it’s easy to be intimidated. Sure, there are silent retreats and long books you can read about the practice, but it’s also something that can be as immersive as you want it to be. It doesn’t need to consume you. And it’s always best to start small. No one starts out with 30-minute meditations twice a day and sticks with it. It’s too much too soon.
To help you begin a meditation practice and stick with it, the Be Meditation team has put together the following tips.
- Find the time and a quiet place. The first thing about meditation is committing the time. It doesn’t have to be a lot—five minutes is great to start with—but you do need to set it aside. Try to pick the same time every day to meditate so you can build the habit. Many people like to practice in the morning, because they’re too tired at the end of the day and because it’s a great way to start off. It’s also important to have a quiet place to meditate. This could be your office, bedroom, or outside in the warm months. Just try to find somewhere free from distractions.
- Know the basics. There are all sorts of meditation but the easiest to jump into are mindfulness meditations, walking meditations, and body scans. Mindfulness meditations concentrate on being present with yourself in the moment and involve sitting upright while taking controlled breaths. Walking meditations are similar but involve a walk—usually outside—and the practitioner concentrates on the feel of the Earth beneath their feet. Finally, a body scan involves sitting quietly and scanning how your body feels from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. These are basic meditations great for beginners.
- Understand the why. Write down why you want to start and maintain a meditation practice. It could be because you feel anxious or because you want to practice patience with yourself. Maybe you’re engaged in a conflict at work or home and want to clear your mind. Whatever the reason, write it down so you don’t forget. When you’re dragging your feet to start meditating, remembering the benefits and why you committed to a practice is great motivation.
- Give yourself a reward. This tip is basic psychology. Everyone likes a treat. Set a goal centered on meditation—maybe meditating four out of seven days of the week—that will unlock a goal. It could be a glass of wine, splurging on a book, or an hour of guilt-free television. As your practice evolves, you can set bigger goals for yourself.
- Track your progress. Note the days you meditate in your journal or calendar—even your phone if that’s how you manage your schedule. At the end of every week and month, look at how you did. There’s nothing like seeing everything you’ve accomplished. Take pride in it and use it as motivation. And don’t beat yourself up if you fall off the bandwagon. Use your past progress as a reason to get back in the habit again.
- Patience is key. If you find your mind wandering, understand that it’s annoying but normal. Have patience with yourself. If you have to cut back on your meditation time a few days as you settle in, that’s fine! Do what works best for you and know that it gets easier the more you try.
- Try a guided meditation. If you are having trouble meditating on your own, guided meditations are a great resource. There are plenty of apps and even videos on the internet that guide you through breathwork and/or clearing your mind. Many long-time practitioners use guided meditations.
- Take a class. Accountability is a huge motivator. Join one of Be Meditation’s group classes where you’ll find a supportive community of other like-minded individuals using meditation to better themselves. Just like taking a class at the gym, if you sign up for a meditation class, you’ll be more motivated to attend than you might be if you go at it alone.
Keep us posted on how your meditation practice goes in the New Year. And if you have tips we missed on our list, drop them in the comment section below.