How to Meditate Every Day
I’ve developed a few different habits on my journey towards a healthier lifestyle. Eating a nutrient dense, whole-food, plant-based diet is one of the main ones. Performing mobility exercises every morning. Writing daily. So on…
All of these habits have been beneficial, no doubt.
However, building a daily meditation practice has perhaps had the biggest impact on my life. I’m far from an expert, but I have definitely found that meditation has allowed me to be more mindful. This mindfulness allows me to make better decisions, and develop even more healthy habits. Sometimes it’s almost like having your own little superpower.
Intuitively, you would think that gaining such a powerful tool would be difficult. Such a big reward should require lots of hard work. But if you approach it the right way, meditating regularly is a lot easier than you think…
WHAT IS MEDITATION?
Let’s take it back to basic for a second.
There are many forms of meditation, but perhaps the most widely known, and the one that I think that I’m referring to is basic mindfulness mediation. It is simply a practice of cultivating awareness of the current moment, often achieved by sitting comfortably and focusing on the sensation of one’s breath.
Simply sitting, and breathing.
Over time, meditation allows you to become more mindful. You can begin to take control of your thoughts, rather than letting them control you. You can stay focussed on the present, instead of worrying about past or future events.
The benefits of meditation are quite astounding, not limited to:
- Increased focus, and better decision-making.
- Improved quality of sleep.
- Reduced stress and anxiety.
- Improved memory and cognitive function.
- Better mood regulation.
- More control over addictive behaviours.
- Stronger feelings of compassion and empathy.
- Strengthened immune system.
- Links to weight loss.
- Relief of IBS symptoms, inflammation and chronic pain.
- Lowered blood pressure and resting heart rate.
The list goes on. And on.
Meditation has been used for thousands of years, and clearly has its benefits. More and more scientific studies are also providing supporting evidence, yet so many us still don’t take advantage of regular practice.
For most, there is the misconception that meditation has to be difficult – that it involves sitting for hours on the hard floor of a temple, or you must have a special meditation teacher with a funny beard and wooden stick to do it right.
These things can be useful and no doubt they sound pretty cool, but they’re by no means necessary. Meditation can be as simple as counting 10 slow deep breaths, or sitting quietly for two minutes.
So let’s take a look at some tools we can use to start building the habit, so we can begin reaping the benefits.
HOW TO MEDITATE
The key to building a lasting, healthy habit is to keep it simple. So that’s what we’ll do.
1. Pick a time.
I usually find that meditating in the early morning upon waking is best. It gives me a chance to clear my mind ready for the day ahead; I would definitely recommend it. Others prefer practising just before bed. Perhaps try both and see what works for you.
2. Have a trigger.
Something that reminds you it’s time to meditate. It may be drinking your first glass of water in the morning, or taking your contact lenses out at night. It could even be a written sign, placed next to your bed. It doesn’t really matter what it is – do whatever works for you. I find that if I don’t attach a habit to a trigger, I have a much harder time sticking to it.
3. Find a quiet area
Somewhere where there will be as little distractions as possible. Your lounge floor perhaps, or a quiet spot in the park. Wherever you feel comfortable, and can have a few minutes of peace and quiet. The less there is going on around you, the easier you will find it to practice.
4. Sit comfortably.
You can sit cross-legged if you like, or even in the full lotus if you’re flexible and feeling badass. But do whatever feels comfortable. I usually go cross-legged and sit my bum on a couple of firm pillows and yoga bloacks, to lift my hips up above my knees. I try to keep my spine neutral, and feel the sensation of my head being pulled upwards by a piece of string.
What works for me might not work for you though, so have a play around to find what’s best. Some people even lie down, but that makes me a bit too relaxed, and I’ll often end up falling asleep…
5. Count your breaths for two minutes.
Just two minutes of your time. That’s all it takes to start your meditation practice. Everyone has two minutes to spare, so there’s really no excuses not to start.
The process is simple. Take long, slow, deep breaths. Expand your belly as you breathe in to fill your lungs with air, then contract your core on the out breath, pushing the air out. Focus on the sensation of the air passing through your nostrils on the inhale, and out through your mouth on the exhale.
Count each full breath, until you reach ten. Then start the process over again. Thoughts will inevitably enter your mind, and you will lose count. But…
6. Be patient.
Like anything else, meditation takes time and practice. You won’t be great at it to start with, that’s a given. Thoughts and worries will enter your mind, distracting you. The most important thing is to not judge your meditation. Watch those thoughts, and let them drift away. Then bring yourself back to the breath.
Don’t beat yourself up and decide that you’re rubbish, or that you’ll never be able to do it. When a baby is learning to walk, they fall many times before taking any proper steps. But they don’t fret over their failures, they get up and keep going.
Meditation is similar. Be kind to yourself. Let go of your judgements, don’t focus on the outcome, and just keep practising.
7. Build gradually.
When you feel comfortable with your two minutes a day, perhaps after a few weeks or months, make your meditation sessions a little longer. Add on 15 seconds, or 30 perhaps. Keep it achievable though – take it slow and you’re more likely to succeed.
Over time, build up to 10-15 minutes a day, but don’t rush it. First build a solid foundation, and slowly add to it. The idea is to build a habit that lasts a lifetime, as opposed to one that fails after a few months. That way, you’ll be more likely to reach your health potential.
If sitting with your own thoughts is scary concept, there are plenty of free guided meditation tracks that can take you through the process.
And that’s it! This isn’t the only way you can learn how to meditate regularly, but these principles worked well for me, and now I hardly miss a day. Just take it slow, be patient, and enjoy the journey.
If you have any other tips, or perhaps some questions about what I’ve said, drop us a comment below!
Thanks for reading!
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