If you’ve never tried meditation before, or are struggling to make it a habit, the following tips will help you bring mindfulness into your daily life.
Don’t let your thoughts get in the way
Many people who are new to meditation believe that mediation requires you to stop thinking all together. However, this is far from the truth. Thinking is an automatic function, it's what our brain is designed to do, and we can’t stop thinking completely, no matter how hard we try!
Instead of worrying about thinking, try using awareness of your thoughts as the tool to increase your ability to focus.
While meditating, instead of trying to block out your thoughts, try observing them without attaching any judgement or emotion to them. Let your thoughts come and go, paying attention to them as they do. Noticing your thoughts as they arise, and letting them go without reacting to them, then bringing your attention back to your breath or body is exactly what meditation is! You don’t need to clear your mind of thoughts at all - meditation is all about being aware that you’re having thoughts and the mental training and benefits of meditation actually come from noticing your thoughts, not having no thoughts!
Don’t get caught up on doing it ‘right’
There’s a common misconception that meditation should be done a certain way, or else it won’t work. Many people worry that they’re not meditating properly, and let this get in the way of continuing. Like many things in life, meditation takes practice and patience and there is actually no ‘properly’ about it.
The important part of setting up a meditation practice is that you make the continued effort to incorporate it into your routine. Even small, short meditation sessions can provide some benefits, so remember every little bit helps.
Try and build it into your routine
If you’re new to meditating, make it as easy as possible for yourself to incorporate it into your routine. If you start off with a negative mind-set, or with a view that meditating is hard, you’ll struggle to stick with it, so instead, set yourself an achievable goal and try and do that regularly. Even starting with 2 minutes a day is a great place to start.
The beauty of meditation is that it can be done anywhere, by anyone and at any time! Figure out a time when meditating works best for you, and if you’re struggling to set up a routine, try introducing short meditations into your routine with a habit you already have in place. This could be before you eat breakfast, just after you brush your teeth or the first thing you do when you wake up (instead of scrolling through social media channels!). Consider setting a goal for yourself to do a couple of sessions a week, and then build it up from there.
The free Smiling Mind app is a great place to start as it features a number of guided meditations, for a number of levels and all times of the day - whether it’s before bed, in the morning or when you’re on the go. The important thing is finding a time, and place, that works for you.
If you’re new to meditating, I’d recommend designating a space in your home, room or work station that’s dedicated to meditation. This should be a quiet, still space with minimal distractions where you feel comfortable and relaxed.
You can also use certain elements to mark this as your meditation space or zone. This could be a candle with a certain scent, a rug, chair or pillow that you identify with meditating that will help you mark a certain space as your meditation zone.
As you build up a practice, you may want to continue using these cues and a specific space, or you may find you enjoy meditating in different locations, when you have the time or when you feel like you need it!
Bring curiosity to your meditation time. If you view it as something you should do rather than something you are curious about then you may find you’re less likely to stick with it. Every time you meditate, try and bring a sense of curiosity to your experience. Notice how your body feels, how your mind is responding and any other responses you can observe. Every time we meditate it will probably be different - sometimes its easy, and sometimes its hard - and that's ok, just be curious. Pay attention to how meditation makes you feel and try and build on those feelings as a tool to keep doing it! The more you do it, the more you’ll reap the benefits, but practising with curiosity means it doesn’t have to be great, relaxing or perfect every time, and that's ok.