When I first started meditation, I found it difficult to make it part of my daily life. I would start a regular practice and feel amazing — but then life would get in the way, I’d tell myself I didn’t have time, and when the alarm would go off in the morning I’d hit snooze convincing myself I needed that extra bit of sleep, rather than getting up and meditating.
I struggled for about five years before I started to make meditation part of my daily routine. The shift for me was recognizing that I could make meditation my own personal practice, which meant I didn’t necessarily have to do what others were doing. I had to find what worked for me.
Here are 10 tips that helped me make meditation part of my daily life:
1. Ask yourself why.
Forget all the reasons everyone else tell your why you should meditate, and find out your personal why. Unless you know why your want to meditate, it will be hard to commit to starting let alone maintaining a regular practice.
2. Don’t make it a chore.
If you find your meditation is becoming a chore always go back to your why. Rather than making it something you have to do, make it something you want to do.
3. Find a time that works for you.
What works for me might not work for you, so don’t get caught up in the idea of having to meditate first thing in the morning or before bed. We all have different schedules and commitments, maybe you have kids that wake you up at 5AM, maybe you’re a shift worker, maybe you have the luxury of time in the mornings.
The important thing is to find a time that is peaceful and relaxed, rather than stressful and distracting. Whatever your schedule, find a time that works for you and put it in your diary. Set an alarm if that helps you stay committed.
4. Find your space.
Have a comfortable space where everything is already set up for you, so all you need to do is sit. Having to move furniture or other items out of the way before you start, just creates another obstacle to get through. Try to find a space that is clear, have whatever items you may need, blankets, bolsters, blocks, chair etc., ready for you to just sit down and start.
The less you have to do before you start your meditation, the easier it will be to get on with it.
5. Wear comfortable clothing.
Make sure you wear clothing that is warm enough or cool enough and comfortable to sit in without feeling restrictive. Having to adjust clothing only distracts you from your practice
6. Sit comfortably.
Find your comfortable seat. Whether it’s sitting on the floor in full lotus or sitting upright in a chair, find the position that allows you to have a lengthened spine, keeping the chest open and without any unnecessary strain.
Choose a position that allows you to feel grounded, so that you can maintain for the duration of your mediation. If you have to move you are not in the right position for you.
7. Start small.
Commit to just five minutes a day. Don’t make it a bigger deal than it needs to be, forcing yourself to sit for hours at time. Build up like you would if you were training for a marathon, like you’d never run a day in your life. Once you’ve committed to five minutes consistently, if it feels comfortable for you, increase the length of time you sit. Focus on quality, not quantity.
8. Know that having thoughts is normal.
Having thoughts during meditation is totally normal, it's impossible to command your mind to stop thinking! Whenever you notice the thoughts come up, just let them go. The key is to not get caught up in the story.
9. Have an anchor.
Use your breath, a mantra, counting technique or anything else, as an anchor point throughout the practice. When thoughts arise bring attention back to your anchor point to keep you focused.
10. Cultivate mindfulness practices in daily life.
Whether it’s washing the dishes, cooking, driving, or in your relationships with others, work on practicing mindfulness in your daily life by focusing your attention on the present moment.