Building A Meditation Practice
Though my younger self would have found the notion hilarious, nowadays I am a big fan of meditation; it is a great way to offset the din of the increasingly noisy world we live in. Recently a news story surfaced about a school that replaced detention with meditation and the amazing results staff witnessed in the children; in fact by and large, science seems to agree with traditional wisdom on this one.
I was first introduced to meditation by one of my best friends from when I was living in France; it was a pretty lousy time of my life and I was surprised by how much meditation helped me to feel a little bit more in control. Much like my yoga routine, the results were gradual and it was a little time before I could confidently see progress. However, since giving it a go in 2013, it's been a habit that I've stuck to as best I can for the last three years.
The premise of today's post is very simple: to share the advice I have for those of you that are interested in giving meditation a try, or who have given it a go and want to make it a habit that sticks!
FIND A TIME THAT WORKS, AND MAKE IT A HABIT
Nowadays I meditate in the morning, but for ages I meditated just before bed at night. Whether you do the same, or carve out some time on your lunch break, setting aside a designated time helped me make meditation a regular part of my routine.
I found that by choosing the same time each day, I was then able to see the rewards of a consistent practice as opposed to trying it for a couple of days at a time and not feeling that much different.
I also find it easier to add in good habits after a break in my routine, like getting back from a holiday or having been poorly for a few days. Sometimes a little change can make things feel like a fresh start.
TRY IT JUST AFTER EXERCISE
My head is at its noisiest when my body is restless, so the reason I now meditate in the mornings is because I do so just after my yoga workouts. I'm the last person to advocate regular exercise, but if you are struggling to find quiet, this factor may explain why.
FIND AN APP THAT WORKS FOR YOU
I really think that this tip is the reason why I was able to stick with meditation. Having a guide to keep my mind from aimlessly wandering off into worrying for ten minutes at a time is so helpful, and the one I am using at the moment is Simple Habit. Of the apps I have tried it has the most intuitive and user-friendly setup, with options that cater to both what you are up to (waking up, taking a break, having a tough day and many more) and the time you have at hand, with guided meditations as short as five minutes for when you're tight on time. It has an array of other features too, including a podcast, clever tracking of how much you've done and the option to set up a daily reminder. The lovely people of Simple Habit have also offered a generous 30% off code to anyone wanting to give it a try - simply click this link and use the code "thislastmoment".
LET GO OF ANY PRECONCEPTIONS
I've spoken to a few people about meditating, and those that struggle almost always tell me they think they're "doing it wrong". I think there's a common expectation that we're going to meditate for a bit, maybe even say om a few times and pretty much have a spiritual epiphany every time, which means we feel like failures when this inevitably doesn't happen. For me, meditation is a chance to simply sit quietly and watch my thoughts, realising that I don't have to attach to them and let them run away with me. Doing so regularly lets me use this technique when I'm not meditating, pretty essential for a natural worrier like myself.
If you're sat feeling annoyed that your mind is wandering or that you haven't settled into a state of total bliss, don't worry. Everyone starts out feeling the same thing and as I said earlier, progress is gradual. That's why I like the term "practice"; every time I sit down I'm not sitting an exam, or trying to wow myself; I'm just practising.
What advice do you guys have for meditation? And if you have tried Simple Habit, what did you think? Come to the comments and let me know!
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