Five Simple Strategies To Start A Meditation Practice
Starting a meditation practice is overwhelming for everyone. My teacher shared with me that he stared at his cushion every morning for a year and a half before he was able to cultivate a practice of his own. It doesn’t have to be like that. I’ll teach you everything he taught me to make it easier.
I would heed the best piece of advice I’ve ever been given and apply it to your meditation practice; start small. Most of us have an idea or want to start a new habit of some sort. Unfortunately, most of us start off by diving into the deep end of the pool as if we’re professional swimmers. Inevitably, this leads to failure, followed by us being way too hard on ourselves.
We failed because we set ourselves up for failure. Yes, sometimes jumping in the deep end is the way to go. But, often I find that successful people slowly work their way into a new habit. These habits tend to be long-lasting and create a successful outcome. I apply this to almost everything in my life now. When you start a meditation practice, begin with five minutes a day then grow from there. Soon your five minutes will be seven, ten, fifteen, and who knows, maybe you’ll find yourself doing an hour long practice every morning before you leave for work.
Find a designated area in your home where you’ll commit to meditating at. I wish I would have done this sooner myself. A designated spot in the corner is all you need, nothing fancy. I have a corner in my bedroom that I use for my meditation space. Think of it as an inspiring space. You may want to put some candles, pictures of people who inspire you, and anything else that makes you feel good or brings joy to you. Traditionally, this will be called an altar, but it could just be called your “Inspired Corner”. Doing this creates some structure to your practice and structure helps creates consistency.
Next, let’s put it on the calendar. One of my favorite Marie Forleo quotes is “if it’s not scheduled, it’s not real”. I find this true in my own life and that’s why I make my weekly to do list on Sunday and the first item on my daily list is “meditate”. I find that meditating first thing in the morning is best because your mind isn’t flooded with thoughts and your well rested. If that doesn’t work for you, maybe try five to ten minutes during lunch or before bed. Take a few minutes to review how your day plays out and see where you can carve out time to meditate.
Now that you have a space, a time, and you’ve made a decision, what’s next? Sticking to or creating a new habit is all about practice. And, remembering you’ve decided to do this. Timers on my phone have helped me do everything from reminding me to get my son off the bus to getting to bed at a reasonable hour to keeping a consistent meditation practice. You can use your phone settings or apps like Insight Timer. Starting a meditation practice just takes… practice. When you get off track and forget a few days or even weeks, just get back on track. Remember, none of us start out as professional swimmers, you’ll have good days and bad, but once you get in the habit you can’t and won’t want to stop.
The last, and most important thing to starting and maintaining a practice is to find a style that works for you. I personally practice single-pointed, breath meditation, which is also known as Vipassana. Others have had success with transcendental meditation, loving kindness meditation, and zen meditation. The list goes on, and my suggestion is to try a few. Youtube has an unlimited amount of resources. I do encourage you to find a reputable teacher, because anyone can throw a video on youtube. Afterall, this is your mind we’re talking about. I love Sharon Salzberg, Pema Chodron, Geshe Michael Roche, and Deepak Chopra. Deepak and Oprah have created many amazing meditation challenges to get you started.
This is about all you need to start something that has the potential to change your life. I can tell you first hand that without a daily meditation practice, I wouldn’t be who I am today. It has helped me to respond instead of react. It has given me great insight and ideas for everything from business strategy to how I interact with family and loved ones in a more present and compassionate way. I hope and believe it does the same for you.