Nine Tips on Setting Up a Successful Meditation Practice – Melli O’Brien
Do you want to bring more mindfulness into your life? Introducing a regular meditation practice into your life is a great way to do just that.
Here are 9 tips to support you in integrating this powerful practice into your daily routine…
1. Seek Guidance
Meditation, although a fairly simple practice, doesn’t always come naturally. It’s the antithesis to how we’re conditioned to think and act in this busy day and age. A good, qualified instructor can be a huge benefit in helping you get started. For quality meditation practice, its essential to get the basic foundations of practice correct.
Look for a workshop, class or retreat where you can ensure that experienced teachers will provide you with the basic information you need. A good coach will guide you through and answer questions.
2. Find the Right Fit
There is more than one way to meditate. If you’re thinking of setting up a long term regular home practice you may consider having a period of exploration into different types of meditation techniques before settling on your chosen practice. Different meditation types suit different types of people.
You may enjoy mantra meditation, breath meditation or other types of seated practice. Yoga Nidra (body scan) is another wonderful and very popular form of relaxation and meditation. Then there are also movement meditations like taichi, qi gong and some types of yoga. Once you find your preferred meditation practice, stick with it for your daily routine to reap the benefits of consistency.
3. Stick to a Schedule
One of the biggest mistakes people make is to try to squeeze meditation into their day wherever they can. Other activities that pop up tend to take priority. Commit to a routine. Between 10 to 20 minutes per day to start with is recommended. Consistent, brief, daily sessions will garner better results than long, sporadic sessions.
Once you practice with regularity, you can begin increasing the duration of your sessions if you choose. The beginning and end of the day are highly recommended as practice times. Morning has long been considered the optimum time for meditation.
I also know many people who choose to meditate during lunch hour at work and swear by it. This may just be the most nourishing way to spend your break. Once you figure out what time of day and length of practice works best for you, enjoy it as part of your daily routine.
4. Your Meditation Environment
If possible, it is ideal to set up environment conducive to relaxation. Is there noise, clutter, bright humming lights or other distractions that may be counter-productive to your practice? In a pinch you can meditate anywhere, but part of establishing a routine is providing yourself with a favourable environment.
Find a quiet spot and set up a special chair, mat or fluffy pillows to sit on. Consider enhancing the atmosphere with flowers, incense or candles. Set up your own little meditation retreat in your home or office—a small corner that promotes a mood of peace, harmony and comfort.
5. Eliminate Distractions
When you have family, roommates or co-workers afoot, distractions can be a problem. Be pro-active to prevent them. Ask the people around you for the undisturbed time that you need. Additionally, silence your phones or hang a “do not disturb” sign on the door.
No matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to silence the world. Unexpected and unwanted things will happen in life. A neighbour will decide to mow the lawn or an impatient driver may blare a car horn. You can’t control everything in the external world, but you can control your internal world.
Develop an attitude of accepting the situation for what it is. Meditation can be a good practice ground for maintaining equanimity, focus and acceptance when things don’t go the way you planned. If disturbances occur, have a sense of allowing them to be there and then simply bring your attention back to your meditation.
6. Meditation Partners
It can be helpful to find a friend or group with whom to meditate. While we’re running around trying to fulfil our commitments to everything else in life, it can be hard to stick to the commitments we’ve made to ourselves.
Meditation partners can provide you with the support and encouragement to keep on track; your commitment to friends or the group is insurance to help keep up your practice.
Finding partners allows you to meet like-minded people and to share the experiences while helping to keep your practice fresh. Some people shy away from group meditation, fearing everything from distractions to feeling silly but group meditations seem to generate a deeper experience of practice for each individual. It is a phenomenon well known amongst meditators. They also provide an opportunity to share experience and grow together.
7. Take a Meditation Retreat
By going on a retreat, you can immerse yourself in meditation and mindfulness experience. This is a powerful way to experience the benefits of practice. This kind of consistency of practice in a short burst can be nothing short of life-changing.
There are different types of meditation retreats just like there are different types of meditations. Retreats can vary in duration, from afternoon getaways to long trips lasting weeks or even months. The intensity of meditation can also vary, from a couple of beginner sessions per day to sessions that can be quite intensive and go on nearly all day.
Explore the various options and find one that is suitable for your desire and ability level. Aim for something that may challenge but will not overwhelm you. Ideally you want to come home feeling refreshed, light and at ease. There is no need to run a marathon if your only just starting out jogging!
8. Know your Reason Why
Most of us have a string of lost interests in our pasts. Something gets us fired up and we’re eager to jump in, only to find enthusiasm wane. The commitments that become a permanent fixture in our lives demonstrate our core values. The things we can take or leave fall by the wayside, but we won’t let go of something if it helps us with what we truly value in life.
If you want your new meditation practice to stick, take stock of the reasons you’re doing it. What values will this practice touch on for you— health? Spirituality? Peace of Mind? Living life more fully and making your experiences richer? Stay connected with your ‘why’.
9. Bring the Meditative Mentality Everywhere
The point of meditating is to bring about a greater degree of mindfulness, so that your entire life can be transformed. You don’t have to stop the world, dim the lights and close your eyes every time you feel you need a meditation.
While a daily regime like this is beneficial, you can also bring that mentality into the more active parts of your day through mindfulness. No matter what the task, if you do it with focus and awareness, it’s a meditative experience.
Turn your daily chores into a mindfulness practice simply by giving each moment of that activity your fullest attention. Put yourself in the present moment without making that activity a means to an end.
If you are doing the dishes, take in the fullness of your sensory experience: the warmth of the water, the sound of the crackling bubbles, the contours and colours of the objects you’re cleaning.
You can walk mindfully; instead of being lost in mental chatter, pay attention to each step, your breathing and surroundings. Be highly alert and engaged in what you are doing—and if the mind wanders bring it gently back to the moment and what your doing.
As you practice mindfulness this way your practice truly begins to transform your life. Through mindful living meditation become much more than just a technique. It becomes a way of life.
Thoughts? Questions? Jot them in the comments section below. I always reply : )
Wishing you well,