The benefits of mindfulness and meditation are widespread. The act of being more mindful and the practice of meditation have been shown to reduce stress, aid anxiety, improve focus and productivity, and even inspire greater creativity. Mindfulness and meditation can have a positive impact on your relationships, personal development, health and overall sense of wellbeing.
So, while you know the benefits of mindfulness and meditation, what do you need to keep in mind when starting and maintaining a meditation practice? How will you turn your new practice into a powerful life-changing habit? Here are our top ten tips to get you started.
- Be kind to yourself
Meditation isn’t about judging yourself or setting yourself unrealistic expectations. If your mind wanders, and it will, acknowledge the wandering and instead, allow it to help you become more aware of what’s happening in your mind. Then, refocus and bring your thoughts back to your breath. It’s a constant journey and a continual practice. There is no such thing as good or bad when it comes to meditation.
- Choose a time that works for you
The morning is often when most people feel alert and energised so it can be the perfect time to meditate. Try setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier and meditating before heading off to work. If morning isn’t your best time, then choose a time that works for you. Maybe a lunchtime stroll and mini meditation suits you best or practising for 10 minutes each night before you go to bed. Find a time that works for you.
- Start small
By starting small, you’ll stop yourself from feeling overwhelmed. Set yourself a goal of meditating for three minutes each day for a week. Then, increase this to five minutes a day for a week or two and continue to increase until you’re at the stage you want to be.
- Get help
When you’re starting out, it can be useful to invest in a meditation tool or app to help you commit to your practice. There are many options available, but one of our favourites is 1 Giant Mind, founded by Jonni Pollard. Read more on him here. Other favourites include Buddhify and Smiling Mind.
- Choose a quiet space
Choose a space to meditate that is quiet and calming, a space where you won’t be distracted or interrupted. Leave your phone out of the room or put it on airplane mode. If you want to light a candle or add some fresh flowers to the space, do so and make it a place you love spending time in, but don’t let the desire to make the space perfect, hold you back from meditating. You can meditate anywhere and anytime.
- Track your new habit
Grab a simple notebook or pen and track your habit each day. If your habit is to meditate for five minutes in the morning, then write this down and tick off each day as you complete it. By tracking your progress, you’ll be able to see how far you’ve come and celebrate your growth. Research has shown it takes approximately 66 days to turn an action into a habit. Set yourself a goal to practise daily for 66 days and reward yourself for the effort.
- Check in with your emotions
When you begin and finish each meditation, check in with how you’re feeling in both mind and body. Think about the way your body feels – is it tense? Is it relaxed? Is your mind racing? Do you feel tired or happy or sad? Notice how you feel when you begin the session and how you feel after it.
- Find a friend
Habits are easier to stick to when you’ve got someone who’s joining you on the journey. Find a friend who wants to start a meditation practice too and check in with each other every day. You don’t have to meditate together, but you can help keep each other accountable and reflect on the benefits of meditation together.
- Express your gratitude
You are making a choice, each day, to do something positive for yourself. Thank yourself for making that choice. Recognise that you made that decision, celebrate your commitment and be thankful for your doing. If it helps to literally thank yourself at the end of each meditation, do so. A little whisper, smile or pat on the back will set you up for greater positivity each day.
- Remember why you’re doing it
Committing to a new habit can involve changing the way you view things. For example, rather than thinking of a meditation practice as just another thing you should be doing, change the way you look at it. By meditating you are making time for you. You are choosing to help yourself feel and perform at your best. There is no such thing as should. Let go of that word and focus on the reasons why you are truly choosing to spend time on this and the benefits it gives you.
Above all, let go of any negative thoughts or ideas that meditation is a difficult practice and one that won’t work for you. Meditation is for anyone and everyone. There’s no right or wrong way to create a meditation practice. Do what feels right to you and embrace the benefits in your everyday life.