Whether you realize it or not, a large aspect of yoga is meditation. The focus on ones breath, clearing ones mind, putting external worries aside during practice are all fundamental in mediation. Many find it hard to start meditating or continuing with meditation. Here are some tips to starting a meditation practice that you can stick with.
1. Connect meditation to an existing habit in your day.
This has been referred to as habit stacking and a very effective method for introducing new habits that stick. Taking a shower, brushing our teeth, making coffee in the morning are all examples of habits we have that are more of less on autopilot and require little mental effort to complete. By associating meditation to one these task (or any other you currently have) and practicing it directly before or after there is an increased likelihood of this new habit taking root. For example, if you want to meditate in the morning, it might makes sense to add meditation to your morning routine after showering but before making coffee. Initially, making coffee will be your reward for completing your mediation practice.
2. Take it easy and ease into it
Even the most enlightened individuals weren't able to meditate for an hour when starting out. Start out by mediating for 2-3 minutes per day. As you feel comfortable with this add a minute or two and work yourself up to 10 minutes, or 20. Maybe even 60 if you're getting the benefits of meditation. At first, it's more important to make sure this practice becomes a habit than the duration you're actually practicing.
3. Use guided meditations
If you're new to meditating, it can be hard to know how to get started. I definitely suggest using a guide to help make this practice easier. You can download an app, like Calm or Headspace, or find one of many on YouTube. In these guided meditations, a calming voice will guide you through breathwork, visualization, and relaxation techniques.
4. Learn mindful breathing
Just as you would prepare muscles for exercise by first stretching, you should start a mediation practice by preparing you mind by breathing. Breathe consciously and deeply to help relax your body and your mind. Starting a meditation off with intentional breathing is an excellent way to calm oneself and get the most out of the meditation practice.
5.Schedule your meditation
Put meditation on your calendar as if it were an appoint you can't miss. Block off a time when you will have the ability to focus and likely won't be interrupted. Pick a time that works for you, whether the morning, afternoon, or evening but try to make it consistent. Choosing a time that is the same everyday will help this practice become a habit and not a task.
6.Create space for meditation
You don't need a whole room, just an area that is quiet and comfortable. It should instill a sense of calm and not inherently cause stress (e.g. your office might now be a great place). Some find it helpful to light incense or a candle to help clear their mind. Whatever helps you make this space a calming presence is great. The point is to have a space you can focus without distraction.
Until next week!