Do you want all the benefits of a meditation practice but think you don't have the time to commit to a regular practice? If you’re like me, you keep hearing that tiny voice in your head, scrolling through your never-ending to-do list every time you sit down for a moment of peace and quiet.
Well, trust me when I tell you that you can make a regular meditation practice a reality. Follow these five steps to go from meditation amateur to all-star:
1. Recognize that it will be challenging.
Meditation isn’t always easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Most type-A people get frustrated and fed up with meditating when, as newbies, they expect to be able to sit for 20 minutes with a clear and calm mind right off the bat. Sound familiar?
As a type-A personality, I tend to be a quick learner and expected that perfecting meditation wouldn’t be much different than acing a test. Well, guess what? I was wrong. In the beginning I could sit for only five minutes at a time. And then I learned that it’s OK. I realized it was going to be a challenge — and I was up for it.
2. Meditation looks different for everyone. Find what works for you.
Any technique that reduces your stress hormones, increases your ability to feel love and compassion, and settles your spirit is a meditative activity. The actions may differ, but the benefits remain the same: increased focus, stress relief, better sleep, pain reduction, and more.
There are a million different ways to meditate. Some are more traditional like guided or silent meditations, while others are a bit unusual, like laughter meditation. I’ve even found a great sense of calm and serenity while putting together a puzzle and drinking tea on a chilly winter night.
Just because your best friend calms her mind at her favorite hot yoga class doesn’t mean that you have to. Choose an activity that gives you pure joy and listen to the brain chatter quiet down. Play around with different types of meditation and find the one that resonates with you.
3. You can meditate while you move.
You don’t have to sit to meditate. Type-A personalities like me tend to shy away from idling. We feel time should be spent productively by working out or cooking dinner, for example.
But meditation isn’t idle time. It’s a chance for our bodies to press the reset button. It stops our fight-or-flight response and flips the switch to rest and digest. The trick here is that there are lots of ways to flip the switch. Sitting cross-legged on the floor is just the popular ideal but not the universal truth.
Exercise is a great form of meditation because it helps remove excess stress hormones from the body, leaving us feeling refreshed and relaxed. Just make sure you leave your phone at home. There’s nothing like the constant ding of notifications to ruin your chill pill.
4. Make a daily meditation appointment — and keep it.
If your calendar looks anything like mine, it’s probably a minefield of meetings, appointments, and to-do lists. So why is it that we make time for all these color-coded boxes but never seem to have time for ourselves?
Part of starting a meditation practice is prioritizing your health and well-being. Schedule your meditation sessions in your calendar and treat them like they're a hard-to-get hair appointment. By scheduling them in, you’ll have better success at creating a new healthy habit that sticks.
5. Find peace in the practice.
Last, don’t forget that it’s called a meditation "practice" for a reason. Stop striving for perfection, and find peace in the practice.
So, how can you incorporate more mindful practices into your life? Your imagination is the limit. Dig deep and ask yourself that hard question. Then, incorporate more of those activities into your daily life.
Brand new to meditation? Here are a few more introductory articles to get you started:
- 7 Insider Tips To Make Meditation Easier
- 6 Signs You're Meditating All Wrong + What To Do Instead
- 5 Mistakes New Meditators Make + How To Fix Them
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