Arriving Home :: Starting & Sustaining A Meditation Practice
"We start by showing up. And we sustain by showing up."
In today's offering, I want to share some of my tried-and-true ways of starting a meditation practice and then sustaining it.
I have found over the years that there is an art to beginning and a slightly different art to making meditation consistent. Both require intention, desire, trust, determination and faith. Yet to begin a meditation practice is an experience of learning and a bit of trial and try again. Creating the habit of consistent meditation is often knowing how to navigate the inevitable inner negotiations and procrastination.
:Starting A Meditation Practice:
Know your why. Your intention for why you want to meditate is one of the most important ingredients of beginning a meditation practice. The clearer you are on your reasons and motivations for wanting to learn and practice meditation, the more inspired you will be to show up and try. Especially when you encounter your first spell of fidgeting, or anxious mind. These are the moments in particular remembering your intention for why you want to meditate can correct any urge to stop or give up. (For more on setting intentions, click here.)
Start small and smart. If I had to pick one piece of advice to give on how to start meditating, it would be to have the right expectations when you are beginning. Often we think we have to turn our lives upside down or rearrange our entire schedules to add in meditation. It can easily become another item on the to-list that gives us tension over completing and guilt if we haven't completed it yet.
Begin with a small and manageable amount of meditation time that can easily fit into your schedule. I'm talking 3, 5, or 10 minutes - that's it.
Add this small amount of meditation time into your schedule for one week or take it one-day-at-a-time. That's right, just have the goal be for one week or 10 days at first. This way you have a small and manageable first milestone to reach. You can even say to yourself, "I am meditating just for today and I know I will again tomorrow."
Be comfortable. Having meditation be a comfortable experience is imperative. Our human nature is to avoid unpleasant experiences, so if you are feeling uncomfortable when you are meditating this will be one of the distractions that will lead you to not practicing.
Find your comfortable posture. This can be sitting on a chair, a cushion, a couch, or on the side of your bed.
Try different positions when starting your meditation practice and know that within the first week or so you will find the most comfortable meditation posture for you.
Thoughts are okay. When starting a meditation practice there is a common misconception that you are not supposed to have thoughts or that thoughts are bad. I am so happy to share that this simply isn't true and thoughts are not only okay during meditation, but that they are part of the practice!
Each time you have a thought it gives you the opportunity to begin again in your meditation practice by going back to your breath or present-moment object of focus.
This builds the muscle of attention in your brain. Each time you notice that you are thinking and come back to your object of focus, the stronger your attention and focus becomes.
:Sustaining A Meditation Practice:
The add-on approach. One of the surest ways to create a consistent habit of meditation is to add it onto something you already do everyday.
Pause and think about your daily routine. What are some actions that you do every single day? Wake up, make coffee or tea, brush your teeth, take a shower, leave for work or an errand, make lunch or dinner, get ready for bed - you get the idea.
Choose one of these daily activities to hinge your meditation practice to. So whenever you are done brushing your teeth, you meditate. Before you leave for work or errands, you meditate. At lunch time, you meditate. Before dinner, you meditate. Before getting ready for bed, you meditate. This will help you build your meditation practice into what you are already doing.
Just for the love of it. My advice for making meditation consistent is to fall in love with the practice itself. In its nature, meditation is simple and yet there is so much richness, rawness, vulnerability and discovery that lives within it.
Learn what you love about your meditation practice the most and keep showing up for exactly that. Is it the clear mind you have after practice? Is it the feeling of calmness or relaxation? Is is that you feel more centered and happier throughout your day? Or do you simply find it satisfying to know you are bettering your physical and mental health? Whatever it is that is exciting you about your meditation practice, make that your reason to keep meditating day in and day out.
When you approach your meditation practice from the heart, it becomes something you naturally want to do. Having love and good feelings for your practice allows it to take on a supportive and nourishing role in your life.
For more guidance on starting a daily meditation practice, you can sign up for my Weekly Insights newsletter and receive my free resource guide on Meditation and Mindfulness for Daily Living.
You can also sign up for Meditation Mentorship sessions with me here if you are wanting one-on-one support for starting or sustaining your meditation practice.