Maintaining a regular meditation practice can often feel overwhelming and a daunting task. The benefits of regular meditation, however, have proven to be incredibly healthful, increasing mental, emotional, and even physical health. Here are a few tips to help you stick with it, getting the most out of your meditation practice.
One key element of a successful meditation practice is consistency. Just like anything else, mediation takes practice. For the mind to become still and peaceful, it requires training. For every thought that arises in the mind during meditation, it is necessary to bring your attention back to your breath and the present moment. The more you practice, the more this process becomes like second nature. So be sure to make it a daily practice to meditate. Create time, either in the beginning of your day, or in the evening, to meditate for at least 20 minutes. Use a timer, or set a reminder on your phone so that your meditation practice does not fall to the wayside.
Don’t Worry About Your Thoughts
A common challenge for many meditators is the distracting content of the thoughts that often arises during meditation. The mind can do some funny things when you start paying attention to it with the aim of changing your thought processes. It is not uncommon to experience catastrophic thinking, violent imagery, sexual thoughts, or thoughts that may seem “crazy” to you. This is completely normal, and it is best to bring as much acceptance to whatever thoughts arise in your mind, becoming the conscious observer of your thoughts, rather than getting pulled into the content of them.
Create a Sacred Space
Just as important as consistency is in the art of meditation, having a sacred space devoted solely to meditation can help you sink into that relaxed and tranquil state. Simply meditating at your desk, or while you lay in bed, is definitely better than no meditation at all. However, it will be much easier to let go and relax if you devote a single room or space in your house for the act of meditation.
Focus On Your Breath
Consider your breath an anchor during your practice of meditation. When thoughts arise, simply bring your attention back to your breath. Feel the flow of air in and out of your lungs, letting your body relax with each breath. Take deep and slow breaths initially to calm your mind and your emotions. Consciously allow your breathing to become slower and deeper, quieter and more gentle. Stay with the breath for as long as you can. And again, when a thought arises, gently return your attention to your breath.
Prepare Your Body For Meditation
When the body is not properly prepared for meditation, it can make relaxing especially difficult. If you’ve been running around all day, multi-tasking, and feeling stress or anxiety, trying to suddenly sit still in meditation may make you feel like you’re losing your mind. It is more effective to take 15 or 20 minutes to stretch your body, do some deep breathing, practice yoga, or any other relaxing practice, in order to prepare your body to be still and quiet.
It is best to meditate either on an empty stomach, or with a small amount of food in your stomach. When the tummy is filled with food, the body’s blood supply is being used for digestion, and the mind can become sluggish. It is best to eat lightly before meditating so that your tummy isn’t growling