You’ve probably heard of the health benefits & stress-reducing effects of meditation. Just 5 minutes a day can help a variety of ailments, from high blood pressure to immune function & memory. If that’s the case, then everyone should be meditating on the regular… Right?
Well, it’s not as easy as it sounds.
If my own experience with meditation has taught me anything, it’s that results don’t happen overnight. It’s called a practice for a reason — you have to work at it consistently if you want to get better. For me, the problem was that I grouped daily meditation into the same “to-do” category as laundry, groceries, & checking my email regularly. It became a chore, which actually added stress to my day if I felt guilty for not getting to it. Isn’t that the opposite of what meditation is supposed to do?
Over the summer I read The Buddha Walks into a Bar, & it changed my perspective for the better. The author, Ludro Rinzler, framed meditation as an all-inclusive practice, no longer reserved for the enlightened or wellness elite. It’s not meant to silence the mind or fix the world around us — meditation means accepting the chaos & making peace with it. It’s learning how to breathe through a mid-week meltdown & finding YOUR OWN happy place to return to.
I still don’t meditate every day, but now I enter each session without preconceived expectations. I’ve learned to let the thoughts pass without dwelling on them, that there’s no perfect way to clear the mind & it’s not necessary (or helpful!) to control it. If you’re new to meditation, the Headspace app is really useful. It has guided meditations including a ten-day introduction which explains the process step-by-step.
Read on for more tips on how to start (& stick with) a meditation practice —
1. Find Your Place
Do you have a favorite corner to retreat to? Maybe it’s sitting on the floor of your bedroom, where sunshine streams in at just the right angle. It could be in your car, during the quiet moments before heading off to work in the morning. You can meditate anywhere — your bed, the couch, with a dog curled up in your lap, wrapped in blankets or holding a crystal to your heart, illuminated by soft candlelight. Find what works for YOU, & dedicate that space to your practice.
2. Ease Into It
Often, what stops us from starting new ventures (wellness, work, or relationship-related, etc.) is the fear of not being good enough. Before sitting down to your first meditation, take a moment to thank yourself for having the initiative to better yourself, if only in this small way. Let go of the idea that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to meditate, & instead, treat it as something you enjoy returning to.
3. Stay True To You
What are YOU hoping to get out of your meditation practice? Like anything else we set out to do, we can’t hope to achieve results without a specific goal in mind. We each bring our own emotional experiences to the mat, whether we’re carrying anxiety, sadness, trauma, fear, or the weight of a broken heart. Try out different forms of meditation, like listening to a guided imagery practice before a big interview or reciting a daily mantra in front of the mirror when you’re most in need of self-love. No two meditations are ever the same, & your practice should change & evolve as your needs do.
You’re officially out of reasons NOT to start a meditation practice of your own. The real challenge is sticking with it. Keep in mind that all routines feel more natural with time. Don’t get discouraged if your mind starts to wander or if letting go doesn’t always come easy for you. Sometimes, we all need a reminder to breathe.
Featured Image by Natalie Grainger on Unsplash