7 Tips to Starting a Successful Meditation Practice
Starting a new meditation practice might be one of the hardest things we do. To support you in your practice, I've put together a few resources to get you going AND CRUSH IT!
1) Set your Space
Location, Location, Location. Imagine meditating by a babbling brook in nature or in a cozy room alone compared to the subway train or in the middle of your living room with your kids home. Obviously, you'll have better results from the serene nature environment or the cozy room.
So, set yourself up for success and create a space inside your home that is all yours and distraction-free for at least the duration of your session.
You could set up a special space in your study or bedroom corner with a candle, incense and flower - or choose a beautiful, quiet nature-spot where you know you won't be bothered.
Be sure to consider what noises could be present and the weather, if outside. It's hard to concentrate with loud noises present, as well as strong wind or cold temperatures. I always bring a pillow or blanket to sit on if outside.
2) Pick an appropriate time for you and do it at the same time every day, if possible.
When we do anything at the same time each day, our brain starts to acclimate more quickly to that particular activity and biorhythm. If we do this for meditation, our body/mind will start to slow down more quickly, so we can slip into that relaxed, silent space with more ease.
There are also certain times of day that are said to be "best" due to the rhythms of nature and our own biorhythms. For example:
a) Just after waking
b) Right before bed
e) "Siesta" time (one of my personal favorites, between 3-5pm)
Ultimately, the best time to meditate is ANYTIME! JUST MAKE SURE YOU DO IT!
3) Prepare your sitting posture. Because physical discomfort is probably the first hurdle we encounter in meditation, it's important to know what postures will support your body and mind for both alertness and relaxation.
Sitting on the floor or a cushion with an erect spine is great, with or without back support, as well as sitting in a chair. However, lying down is not recommended for most meditation styles, as it promotes sleepiness. You have to do what works for you.
4) Use a Mudra to promote focus. We can get distracted and lazy when we're sitting with eyes closed. Resting the hands in "mudras" can help promote alertness and a free-flowing energetic circuit in the body.
5)Commit to a certain number of days in a row and set an alarm every day to remind you.
It's easy to get lazy, distracted and procrastinate when we're starting habits. "I'll do it tomorrow," the mind will say, but if we put it on our calendars and set alarms, we support follow through on our commitments.
Meditation is something that yields cumulative effects. Meaning, if you just do it every other day or every 2 days, you will not feel the same benefits as meditating every day.
Various studies report different about the number of days it takes to form habits (14, 21, 30, 42). From my own experience, I really started seeing the difference meditation made in my daily life (non-meditative interactions) at about 14 days. So this, is my recommendation for a minimum goal.
However, if this is your first attempt at consistent meditation, make sure it's something that is feasibly achievable for you, like 7 days. And then if you accomplish that, set a longer goal like 14 or 21, etc.
6) Don't eat right before meditating
Digestion slows down during meditation and can be distracting, so allow at least 45 minutes after eating before meditating. It is equally distracting to be really hungry during meditation, so it's great to be somewhere in between. Not hungry, but not full.
7) Note the effects of your meditation either mentally or in a journal.
The effects of meditation can be fine tuned and subtle, so before we solidify the habit, it's great to write down what thoughts, emotions or insights come up either during the meditation or later on in the day. You might even start to notice how colors are brighter, sounds are more exquisite, you're calmer or less reactive, or just generally more aware. Notice all the subtle effects coming out of your practice, which will help motivate you to continue.
I hope you enjoyed preparing for your newfound AWESOME AT-HOME MEDITATION PRACTICE! And that you reap all the amazing benefits that meditation has to give from this point forward.