10 Tips For Starting A Daily Meditation Practice That Lasts
Meditation comes with many benefits including boosting mood, increasing energy, and tempering stress. And this practice is for everyone—even those of us who think we can't sit still. All you need is a little instruction on how to train your brain, and before you know it, you'll be harnessing the power of your mind and improving your life. Here are 10 easy tips to start meditating right now and maintain a daily practice:
1. Get comfortable.
We tend to make meditation more complicated and challenging than necessary. Take it easy. Start by taking a comfortable seat. If you're flexible, sit cross-legged on the floor, on a meditation cushion, bolster, or blanket—with your knees resting slightly below your hips. If you're not, sit in a chair with your feet on the floor.
2. Make it a ritual.
Set a clearly designated space for meditation. It can be as simple as a thoughtfully placed candle (candles can also help you drop into meditation) picture, or crystal. You'll also want to practice at the same time every day. Start with the same protocol for each meditation.
3. Sit tall.
Posture 101: Sit up nice and tall by straightening your spine. Sit in a chair or against a wall if you need to. Lengthening the spine can help increase your circulation and keep you alert.
4. Start small.
Start where you are. If 10 minutes seems overwhelming, begin with five. After a week, begin to add one minute to your practice each week until you build up to 30 minutes (or more) at a time.
5. Be nice to yourself (really nice!).
As renowned meditation teacher Sally Kempton says, "Meditation is relationship." Ultimately, it's all about your relationship to yourself. The way you do anything is the way you do everything. Meditation teaches us radical acceptance, compassion, and unconditional love. Be sweet to your convoluted mind. Surrender to exactly who you are and what is happening—right here, right now. And don't forget to smile!
6. Note your excuses.
Meditation is a practice of self-inquiry. Observe the excuses you tell yourself—I'm too tired, or I don't have time. Notice how your mind can tend to rationalize when you break your commitment. Just observe and understand without judgment. Then recommit to your practice without making excuses.
7. Find a meditation buddy.
Accountability is the answer to your excuses. Find a buddy to commit to meditating with. Find a friend who is also beginning to meditate, or join a Facebook group or online course. Your struggle is normal...but it will get easier.
8. Practice makes perfect.
As the Ashtanga guru Patthabi Jois says, "Practice. Practice. Practice. All is coming." Think of meditation as bicep curls for the muscle of your mind. You are training your brain to focus, concentrate, and let go. Over time, with consistency, it will become easier to drop into.
9. Just breathe.
Our mind is addicted to analyzing the past or projecting into the future, but the breath is only in the here and now. Focus on your breath to anchor the mind into the present moment.
10. Start a meditation journal.
End your practice each day by observing how you feel. What is happening in your body? What is your emotional state? Make note of any changes so they register in your body and conscious mind. The next time you feel resistance to meditation, flip through the notes you made in your journal to remind yourself of its benefits. This will help you stay motivated and committed.
Ashley Turner is a yoga and meditation teacher and the founder of Yoga.Psyche.Soul–an advanced Yoga Psychology Training for yoga teachers, therapists and students. She received her B.A. from the University of Southern California and her Master's degree in psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. She is also a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist.